“Rush Week just became Death Week!”
Let me say first off that director Alex Pucci knows something about production values. For a film shot on Super 16mm for a reported budget of around $1 million, Pucci delivered a film that looks and sounds far more expensive. Reportedly attempting to be a homage to the seventies grindhouse slasher/revenge flicks, Pucci’s focus on detail is amazing, even if his seventies period piece comes with a few anachronisms.
Bobby (Rane Jameson) just graduated high school and wants join his older brother Sean (Chris Prangley) in his fraternity in college. An accident with a drunk driver puts Bobby in a coma. When Sean returns to the campus, he runs afoul of his murderous fraternity led by homicidal sociopath Mark (Jon Fleming). When he dies, he transfers his essence/soul into Bobby, who awakens from the coma and goes to the college to exact revenge for his brother’s murder. Between the frat’s brutal and deadly hazes and the revenge killings, the deaths are many and frequent.
Frat House Massacre spices the violence with plenty of sex and nudity. If you like your nudity filled with hairy chests, rear-lit scrotum shots and bare man ass, you’ll love this movie. They do have some boob shots and bumpy co-ed sex scenes, but the focus is on the homoerotic nature of the fraternity, which I will give props to Pucci for pointing out that elephant in the room. A bunch of young men living together in a male-only establishment, fixating on each other’s sex life and torturing each other in fevered hazes has always seemed incredibly gay to me, but I didn’t join a fraternity, so maybe I’m missing something.
The violence is repetitive and highly unimaginative: close up sharp object in hand; close up object penetrating a body part; close up blood pouring out victim’s mouth and repeat. The characters are completely unlikeable, and since there is no one to get invested in, the deaths are dull. The movie drags horribly at 116 minutes. The story is thin and underdeveloped. There is a lame attempt at a twist at the end, but due to any lack of focus on the subject of the twist, you just don’t care.
The acting is uneven, but OK for the most part. Jon Fleming definitely makes a charismatic villain. His eyes are a window to the soulless. Rane Jameson doesn’t quite have the chops to carry the lead, but does all right.
The anamorphic 1.78 transfer is decent with detailed shadows and strong colors. Some of the night scenes are a bit soft, but stable and layered. The film goes for a washed out look reflecting an aged stock of the seventies, and the grain is noticeable, but surprisingly low for a film shot on 16mm.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is active if not very immersive. Again, this is appropriate for 1970s homage. Clear, crisp dialog balances nicely with music/SFX. It definitely sounds higher-budget than it is.
Not one, but two audio commentary tracks. The first features director Pucci and writer Gonzalez. Not much to learn here, but plenty of festival circuit anecdotes.
The second commentary is with the films’ crew. They clearly enjoy being together again, and it contains far more production info than the director’s commentary.
Deleted Scenes offer over twenty minutes of silent/timecoded B-roll to completed and edited scenes. Hazing torture pornpalooza!
The Making of Frat House Massacre Featurette is EPK fluff, very cheaply produced.
I know some out there will think I don’t like slasher films, but that is not the case. I just felt this didn’t have enough going for it to not be bored to tears. If you have unlikeable characters, at least have memorable deaths, and if you have a thin story premise, don’t drag it out to nearly two hours. If senseless, homoerotic violence floats your boat, you’ll like Frat House Massacre.
“My god, you idiots act like total c**ks”