‘Pledge’ Review: Don’t Haze Me Because I’m Different | Modern Society of USA

‘Pledge’ Review: Don’t Haze Me Because I’m Different

‘Pledge’ Review: Don’t Haze Me Because I’m Different

If you like your torture movies tight, twisty and decently executed, then “Pledge” is for you. There’s nothing particularly innovative about its systematic abuse of three nerdy college freshmen seeking membership in any fraternity that will have them. But the director, Daniel Robbins, is willing to move beyond the tease of his setup to deliver a ringing indictment of popularity as the cheese in a deadly mousetrap.

After multiple, humiliating rush-week rejections, Justin (an excellent Zachery Byrd), David (Zachary Weiner, who also wrote the script) and Ethan (Phillip Andre Botello) are approached by a slinky coed (Erica Boozer) who invites them to a mysterious off-campus mansion. A night of wild partying with half-dressed honeys and a slew of sexual and pharmaceutical favors persuades our grateful geeks to return for an initiation ceremony. You don’t have to be an Eli Roth fan to see where this is going.

Shooting mostly indoors and at night, the cinematographer William Babcock conjures lighting that you’d typically find in more expensive features, adding a baleful glaze that distracts from the story’s soft spots. An economical, 78-minute running time keeps the gore and sadism at manageable levels, and a fishhook ending hammers home the movie’s “What price brotherhood?” theme.

Easing smoothly from light comedy to sweaty terror, the three leads strive to transcend their beta personas. Their cultlike adversaries, on the other hand, rarely breach toxic-rich-kid stereotypes: obsessively groomed, suit-wearing martinets with perfect bone structure and an affinity for branding irons. Their recipe for rat soup, though, is a keeper.

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