Welcome to the second post in my I Watch Them So You Don’t Have To series (see #1 here). I thought it might be fun to share some of the lesser recognised horror ‘gems’ I stumble across, just because.
I’m quite sure nobody else really cares but I do. I love the idea of people getting the films they want to make made, usually on a shoe-string budget – and I want to appreciate them for what they are. The movies I choose to include in this series all have a little something I like, even if it’s difficult to define what that is.
Sure, we’ll explore some shaky pieces, hence you maybe not wanting to dedicate your own time to them – but don’t worry, I got you. I’m aiming to regularly review an indie horror as often as possible. Aren’t you lucky?
Let us begin…
Haunting on Fraternity Row (2018) or The Party Crasher (UK title)
A fraternity house throws their big “Winter Luau” party but when fraternity brothers and coeds begin dying horrible deaths they discover an evil entity has taken over the house.
Director: Brant Sersen
Starring: Jacob Artist • Jayson Blair • Shanley Caswell
The premise here is simple: a gang of super douchey frat boys are throwing one last party before they graduate and disperse separately into the real world. The theme is Winter Luau and nothing’s going to stop it going off with a bang. Not even an ancient curse on the frat house itself, no sir.
Well, Haunting on Fraternity Row begins with dozens of college stereotypes, the boys themselves are almost all stoners and scumbags, there’s the heinous Queen Bee, the sluts, the girl next door and the med student. The pitiful pledges and the gross teen brother who’s gate-crashed the luau against his older sibling’s wishes. They’re all here, basically – and you know what, as rotten as most of them are, there are a couple of stand-out characters that I actually wanted to root for.
As the boys and their pledges prepare for their big party, they wind up in the basement where they uncover a secret room via a crudely crafted tunnel. In the room they find an old chalice that head douche Tanner (Jayson Blair) claims for his own. Unsettled but otherwise distracted by the promise of booze and babes, the gang get on with it. With the exception of Dougie (Ashton Moio), who’s the only one smart enough to do some Googling.
Turns out there was an incident in the house in which the previous owner killed all his dinner party guests, then his wife and himself. And it might well be that he hasn’t quite crossed over yet. Could his demonic soul be connected to the chalice – and are our teens in big trouble? You bet your oiled up bikini bod they are!
Luckily everything is caught on camera, as several of the pledges are tasked with capturing all the fun. But before the carnage begins, Nice Guy Jason (Jacob Artist) is too shy to approach his long-term crush Claire (Shanley Caswell), who likes him back. BFF Maggie (Molly Tarlov) is pushing her to get a life (and into Jason’s jocks), while pining over Tanner herself.
Meanwhile, Grant (Cameron Moulène) tries desperately to please his overbearing girlfriend Liza (Claudia Lee), who’s daddy is going to set him up with a hedge fund career once college is done. I must say that I’m not mad at some of the character development. Often in college movies this kind of detail is overlooked so you’re cheering for these 2D idiots to be slaughtered – in this case, you actually will some of them to live.
I’m firmly on Team Dougie as he’s the only one really interested in uncovering what the fuck is going on. He’s a practical soul and I appreciate that, unfortunately his drug usage goes against him and nobody believes him. Dammit. I also love Jason and Claire, two decent humans with the rest of their lives in front of them – if only they can get out of the house. Maggie is a total babe too, probably the most well-rounded female character in the piece.
Effect wise we’re talking extremely low-budget but at least it doesn’t play its hand too soon or too much. As the students are picked off one by one, there are some choice horror moments. What I feel about this movie is that its creators love and appreciate the horror genre, spinning a tried and trusted horror trope (frat bros & coeds) into something a little fresher, if not completely original.
It might not change the world and it might not leave a lasting memory but there are worse ways to spend an hour and a half.
⭐⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐