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OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS
During a university’s pledge week, the carefree partying turns deadly serious when a star athlete is found impaled in his dorm. The murder ignites a spree of sinister social-media messages, sweeping the students and police into a race against time to uncover the truth behind the school’s dark secrets…and the horrifying meaning of a recurring symbol: a single exclamation mark.

What We Thought:

Initiation had the potential to be really good, but unfortunately it relied on too many tropes of today and ends up being somewhat forgettable. I grew up on 1980s slasher flicks and this could have been a bit of a throwback to those, but I had issues with some of it. Instead of an under-the-radar college slaughterfest, it’s something I watched and will forget about at the end of the year.

I’ll start with the positives, it has some good kills. With college slashers you expect partying, nudity and gore. It doesn’t have any nudity, but the handful of kills are solid. There is a hammer, a drill, some stabbing, all classic slasher weapons. Anyone can use a gun, but you screw someone to a wall? Excellent. The acting is fine too. It’s not good or anything, but it’s a lower budget horror movie with a lesser known cast so you don’t expect it to be great. It’s suitable for what it needs to be.

My biggest issue is the use of technology in it. Every text, social media post, phone call is shown on screen as the characters do it. Yes I get that in today’s world someone’s cell phone is their most important possession, but I find the pop ups to be distracting. Show me what’s typed or even read it out loud, but with a movie like this, my eyes will wander to the pop up on screen and I lose focus.

Also if you read the synopsis up top it mentions social media and the use of exclamation points in posts. It means a guy scored with a girl or something to that degree. The film uses it as a message that this type of cyberbullying is happening and that these women are getting bad reputations because of it. The problem is, most of the movie isn’t about that. It explains it early on, but then becomes a typical college horror flick with students being killed, the cops investigating and trying to figure out who the killer is. Once the killer is shown (and it’s a weak killer) it goes back into the exclamation point and what’s happening to these girls. If it wanted to have a #MeToo or cyberbullying message, it certainly forgot about it for most of the movie.

I know I’m quite removed from my college years and I know I grew up on better horror films than what comes out today, but I still thought Initiation would be better. It started out with a frat party, it has some good kills, but it loses steam and the killer just isn’t who it should be. It makes sense why that person is the killer once it’s explained, but at that point I had forgotten the message the movie wanted to give. It wants to show that athletes can get away with things and that universities will cover it up, but it also never fully says whether or not any of those things actually happened. When you think about that, that the girl doesn’t remember if anything actually did happen then all of it means nothing at the end. Some good kills, but it won’t be the cult flick it could have been.

SPECIAL FEATURES

  • Hidden Secrets: Surviving Initiation
  • The Final Twist: Postproduction

CAST
Jon Huertas TV’s “This Is Us”, “Castle”, “Elementary”
Lochlyn Munro The Predator, TV’s “Riverdale”, “Beyond”
Isabella Gomez TV’s “One Day at a Time”, “Matador”, “Big Hero 6: The Series”
Froy Gutierrez TV’s “Teen Wolf”, “Light as a Feather”, “The Goldbergs”
Bart Johnson High School Musical franchise, TV’s “The Client List”, “Hyperion Bay”
Yancy Butler Kick-Ass franchise, TV’s “Witchblade”, “As the World Turns”
Gattlin Griffith Changeling, Labor Day, Couples Retreat

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