Remakes of movies seem to be common these days. Originality is found almost nowhere and more often than not you get retreads of old ideas. Now it even seems that tv movies are getting remakes like The Initiation of Sarah. The original was made in 1978 and starred Shelly Winters and Morgan Fairchild. The remake produced in late 2006 would also feature Morgan Fairchild in a role. But would it be as good as the 1978 classic or would it simply be a silly excuse for teenage college mayhem with sororities and witchcraft?
Sarah and Lindsey Goodwin (played by Mika Boorem and Summer Glau) are two new freshmen at Temple Hill University. Their mother Trina (played by Morgan Fairchild) shows them the sorority that they will be rushing at, Alpha Nu Gamma. She also makes mention of the fact that they need to stay away from PED, which is a rival sorority. We find shortly after that Sarah has interesting witch like powers and is being labeled as the one. From that point forward she is pursued by both Alpha Nu and PED. For you see, both sororities are groups of witches. Alpha Nu, headed by Corinne (played by JoAnna Garcia) and PED, headed by Dr. Eugenia Hunter (played by Jennifer Tilly)want Sarah to join their side. But the questions about who is good and who is evil in this fight for campus superiority continue to mount as Sarah recognizes her true power.
The Initiation of Sarah is a tv-movie that was thrown on ABC Family during one of their halloween specials. From the outset, it isn’t that bad of the story. Sarah, while typical, isn’t the uberbad “oh I’m going to be the rebel because I have special powers” teenager. By the same token, most of the characters aren’t too gimmicky and actually develop their role. The sister, Lindsey is incredibly shallow but that is what she is supposed to be. The problem with this movie is that they advertise themselves as a family show and then have many subtle references to a rather naughty nature. Pillow fights, not a male in sight (with the exception of Finn played by Ben Ziff), and more lesbian innuendos than you can shake a Catholic School girl outfit at. They are walking a fine line and would have benefited more from either totally going over that line (hubba hubba) or keeping it simple and “G” rated.
The video does get the 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen treatment, still rare for cable tv movies in this day and age. While one has to give points for beautiful creatures such as Jennifer Tilly and Mika Boorem, one has to look at the overall picture (okay for five minutes, then I’m strictly going back to watching Ms. Tilly). The picture is strong and despite the many times they find themselves in the dark, there is nothing really wrong with the picture.
English Dolby Digital 5.1 is the only audio track to be provided. A very decent mix, again surprising for a cable tv movie. Full surround, coupled with good effects and solid throughout. It doesn’t feel dorky and for just a minute, one could make the argument that this doesn’t feel like an afterschool special. English and Spanish subtitles are also provided.
None, nada, zilch. Not a single special feature is on the disc. It would have been nice if they provided the original tv movie with Shelly Winters or at least a nice contrast and compare / interview with Morgan Fairchild. Heck, I would have settled for a commentary where I just get to listen to Jennifer Tilly for 90 minutes. No such luck.
In ninety minutes, the Initiation of Sarah tries to show that sororities and witchcraft mix up a great time. The movie isn’t bad, even if it suffers from the usual teenage “oh look at me, I’m beautiful” syndrome. Strong performances all around (mostly Jennifer Tilly) highlight this unexpectedly decent little movie. The video and audio are also strong, departing from the usual soft cable tv presentation. However, the complete lack of extras seems to bring about the idea that this disc was thrown together and ties me to an average rating. Recommended for rental but that’s about it. Now excuse me while I think about college girls in short skirts who like to dabble in witchcraft. This might be a while.
- DVDTalk.com – “Unfortunately, it’s just a basic cable mix of Felicity, Charmed, and Carrie, with a little bit of the warped, twisted sensibilities of The View and Oprah thrown in to boot”