Welcome witches and warlocks,
Today I will be reviewing the horror slasher THE ROW (2018) by director Matty Beckerman . To best describe the story, I will turn to the IMDB plot summary:
“A college freshman trying to get into a sorority discovers a dark secret about the house she’s pledging for after a series of murders terrorize the campus.”
Early on it is pretty clear that no one in this feature is going to win any acting awards. In general the performances ranged from passable to downright cringe-worthy which made some of the interactions hard to take seriously. There were glimmers of hope here and there, but the acting was definitely not the selling point in any respects.
The story, though, is a different beast altogether as it is not completely irredeemable. While the cop and daughter aspects feel forced, the actual mystery at the heart of the murders is pretty interesting. This is mostly because they throw a lot of different ideas at the audience and leave us to sort through what is true and what is a red herring. The reveal of the killer might seem a tad obvious to the more seasoned of mystery fans, but how that person enacted their spree actually provided a nice surprise for me that had me applauding the cleverness of the reveal.
From a stylistic standpoint, there was nothing too special at work in this film. The frequent party scenes looked similar to what MTV has been doing since the nineties and try as it might, the score remained unmemorable. If I had to give a little credit, it would be to how they choreographed some of the kills to be just out of frame while providing enough in the way of sound design or splatter effects to clue us into what was happening. There were no over the top kills, most were simple and to the point, with the real creep factor being the tableaus the killer left behind.
I will admit that one scene that really worked for me involved our lead character getting wasted at a big college party. During the course of the scene she gets drunk and something about the choice of a peaceful, nearly romantic song against the background of everything that is happening just clicked into place as a cool juxtaposition of ideas. I wish the other party scenes did not rely so heavily on bikinis but kept things more focused on the various characters and how they were handling their transition into this new world.
All in all, this was not as bad as it could have been, but better performances could have elevated the concept beyond the final product. That one party scene was pretty memorable and the killer’s way of enacting their spree was clever enough to stay in my mind past the closing credits. Fans of slasher movies like Sorority Row (2009) or Prom Night (2008) would probably enjoy aspects of this picture.
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