Posted in: Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on May 19th, 2011
When I got to college, I had no idea what I wanted to be. I had signed up for computer science so I could go on to be a video game programmer. The truth is, I placed that as my major because I did not know what else to put. As luck would find it, five years later would get me a degree in Finance which I have never used in the professional world. But there was one thing in college I knew for sure. I wanted nothing to do with any fraternity and I am guessing Brotherhood is not going to change this opinion.
We start off the story with four frat guys in a van (if that van was down by a river, I’m out of here). Frank (played by Jon Foster), the pledge leader puts on a mask and runs out to rob a convenience store and comes back. He demonstrates that he wouldn’t ask the pledges to do anything he wouldn’t first. The other three are noticeably frightened because they think they will be arrested. Eventually one of the pledges decides to do it and when they hit the next store, he completes his task quickly.
The task next falls to Adam Buckley (played by Trevor Morgan) who also reluctant goes off to perform the task. But as soon as he hits the store, he is stopped by another frat, Graham (played by Luke Sexton) who gives him a bag of money and tells him that it is just a gag (to make sure that you are willing to do anything for Sigma Zeta Chi). Adam takes the $19.10 (the year the frat was founded) and goes back to the van.
Two down, one to go. Kevin (played by Lou Taylor Pucci) is the last one left and still scared (since the other two have played along to this point have said nothing to him). He finally decides to do it and asks if he can put the mask on once inside the store as opposed to in the van. Frank tells him sure and Kevin goes off. However, we notice that as he passes by the entrance, Graham is not there. Kevin actually enters the store.
Kevin immediately makes his way back to the bathroom and decides to put on his mask. He strolls out and tells the clerk to hand him the money. The clerk, Mike (played by Arlen Escarpeta) can not hear him through this headphones. At the same time, back in the van, Frank receives a call from Graham asking where the pledge is. We soon realize that Graham is at a corner store across the street and not the one Kevin is holding up right now.
Frank, frantic, runs from the van into the store to see the scene between Kevin and Mike. He yells to Kevin to go before Mike realizes he’s getting robbed. All of the sudden a gun shot goes off, Kevin tries to return fire but realizes that his gun isn’t loaded and then gets shot by Mike for his efforts. A gunfight breaks down (Frank had brought a real pistol) and it eventually ends in the frat guys overtaking Mike and beating the crap out of him and leaving the store in haste.
Meanwhile, there is a party going on at the Sigma Zeta Chi and plenty of crazy stuff happening. It is a frat and sorority party, what do you expect? All of the sudden, Frank and the boys bust in with Kevin (bleeding from gunshot) and lay him down on the table. PARTY OVER. They try to help him while Adam pleads Frank to take Kevin to a hospital. Frank then gets the bright idea to get Adam and Graham to go back to the convenience store and retrieve the surveillance tape. Bad decisions will continue to mount in this thriller. Will anybody be a voice of reason?
I really should put in a large disclaimer before I start discussing this film. I recognize the film was made on a small budget and the fact they made a fantastic concept into a film was achievement enough. The problem is this film requires the viewer to take a flying logic leap about twenty miles into the sky. The whole concept of robbing a convenience store as part of a hazing trick does have a foothold in urban legend. (according to the commentary).
But, it is really hard to fathom that some of the stunts (that presumably have been going on for years) performed here by the frat would not go unnoticed. The gas station is a great example, a guy actually walks in and pays for gas (in the dark) and doesn’t realize something is funny going on when Adam tries to act like a cashier and gives him a ten from underneath the counter? Seriously, a place loses power and I don’t have a receipt for gas? I’m gone. I don’t care how old and senile I am.
Furthermore, there really isn’t anybody to feel sorry for (except maybe Kevin). Adam, who plays the only sense of reason doesn’t speak up until almost too late. Furthermore, the only reason it has significance is because something from the party comes back and bites the whole fraternity in the butt. There are also lots of scenes that are unsettling and honestly unneeded. Everything starts okay, but eighty minutes in I just wanted to shake my head and write a petition to stop hazing over the entire United States.
The video is in 2.35:1 widescreen presentation. The show is set one hundred percent at night time so unfortunately we do get our share of lighting issues. Presentation as a result is very good at times and not so good at others. Color is usually pretty good and detail can be found especially inside the frat house including the hazing cellar. At times, the budget does reveal itself but doesn’t distract. It services the movie well, it is just nothing special.
For the audio portion, we get a 5.1 Dolby Digital track for English and French (2.0 Mixes for both languages also included). Again, I was probably expecting a little bit too much but the dialog is clear and the volume doesn’t fluctuate too much from dialog to action scenes. Sound effects are hardly used due to the budget and feel of the film. It will certainly work given the environment however. No subtitles could be found.
- Automatic Trailers: Forget Me Not, Dead Man Running, and Caged Animal.
- Filmmakers Commentary: This commentary involves the Director Will Canon, Writer Doug Simon and Producer Chris Pollack. Obviously, the more technical of the two commentaries, they tells us about the movie that started as Rosalyn and morphed into Brotherhood This is really a great technical commentary and a wonderful lesson to aspiring filmmakers.
- Cast & Crew Commentary: Will Cannon and Doug Simon both join us again for this commentary. Chris is out, but Jesse Steccato, Meyer DeLeeuw, Dan Marocco (composer), and Joshua Moreno have joined us. Or as Will call them, the NYC Crew. These people are large in part ones that helped with the short film and have an interested stake in this production. It duplicates some of the information from the first commentary but is still a good listen.
- Behind the Scenes Featurette 10:37: A very basic making of featurette. Will Cannon is again our host and talks a little bit about fraternity awareness and the accepted idea of hazing. This started out as a short college film and took on enough strength to make it into a feature film. Funny note, but Lou Taylor Pucci is draped in blood when he is talking, an obvious sign that they are working on extras as they are actually working. They also talk about the car crash and how they had only one take to get it right. By the way, some of those cuts you saw on Arlen Escarpeta, weren’t just makeup.
- Original Brotherhood Short Movie 8:04: The mother of “Brotherhood” so to speak. This short film is very well done for a college student (at the time) and has many of the same elements as the feature film except with one large difference at the end.
- Sigma Zeta Chi Pledge Interviews 4:06: These are mock pledges for the fraternity. Just my opinion, but these would have been a nice introduction to a couple of the characters and could have rolled during some opening credits.
- Photo Montage 4:44: The tagline of this is 19 days in 5 minutes. Basically a bunch of photos from production. A fun piece to look at.
- Theatrical Trailer 1:44: The basic stateside trailer. It isn’t bad but doesn’t set the tone of what the movie is about to me.
- International Trailer 2:23: Much better trailer, though it is interesting that it gives the illusion that the store is really being robbed each time. But I guess that is the point. However, I will say they focus too much on the “party” aspect when that lasts all of five minutes.
A part of me does appreciate the hard work that Will Cannon along with his cast and crew put into the movie. If movies were about effort in this case, I would give a five across the board. However, despite the concept being solid, the movie is very hard to like. There are really no characters to side with and some of the plot holes are too obvious to ignore.
At the same time, extras are the shining moment in the package. Actually, I would recommend getting the disc if you are an aspiring filmmaker just because of the extras. The two commentaries along with the other bits are great tools of technical filmmaking. However, outside of that group, the casual movie goer will probably want to steer away. There is plenty of action, but does not go that extra mile when it comes to story.