Movie Review by Siobahn Harris
Well, that shook me to my core. Wow. I’m torn between being psyched because I loved this movie so much and being sad because of what I just watched. It’s oddly unsettling.
Last year, I heard about this movie on Twitter and I was drawn to it. Unfortunately, I found it around the time that I stopped blogging, so I missed the opportunity to write this review. Then I found the movie while scrolling through Hulu and figured I had another chance to review it, but stupidly, I kept putting it off. However, while reviewing the movie Goodbye Old Friend I was tickled to see that one of the actors also starred in Pledge. It felt like too many signs for me to ignore so I finally sat down and watched it!
The breakdown is simple for this one. Nerdy college kids want in fraternity, but popular frat bros won’t let them in (jerks), but then they are offered acceptance into an elite fraternity that turns out to be too good to be true.
Short and sweet, but let’s get into the twisted details!
Three college freshmen, David (played by Zack Weiner), Ethan (played by Phillip Andre Botello), and Justin (played by Zachery Byrd) are scrambling to find a fraternity during rush week. Feeling defeated, they’re approached by a beautiful woman who tells them about a frat party they should go to, but the constant ridicule from that day has them on the fence about going. Their hype man, David, convinces them to take a chance on the last house, so they head off to the mysterious address. Once there, they are welcomed with open arms by three guys, Max (played by Aaron Dalla Villa), Ricky (played by Cameron Cowperthwaite), and Bret (played by Jesse Pimentel), who shower them with booze, drugs, and beautiful women. After a long night of partying they are asked to leave along with two other guys who have joined them, Sam (played by Jean-Louis Droulers) and Ben (played by Joe Gallagher), but before they can leave the house, they are asked to come back and become members of their club. After a night like that, how could they say no? The guys go home, pack their bags and head back later that night. However, it is clear when they show back up that the mood has changed. The friendly environment they were greeted with before has now gone and the hazing begins. The five guys must then endure 48 hours of torture before becoming a full member of this exclusive club. Can they handle it? Are they strong enough? Whose fucking idea was this again?
This movie is not for the squeamish! I’m not a fan of gratuitous violence, it not only makes me sick, but it makes me doubt the creator’s ability to make a strong film without the excessive violence. This may seem odd considering some of the films I’ve reviewed and loved, but it all boils down to whether the violence is necessary to the scene. Pledge definitely pushed the violence close to my limit, but right before I could say something about it being too much, they stopped. It was like they knew that one more hit would be too much.
Can I just point out that there are so many red flags that these guys should have seen? When you are trying to find a frat house, but you have to pass through a chained fence and walk forever away from the college, it’s best to just head home. There were red flags left and right, I mean seriously, these guys were partying with girls who were wearing red dresses and drinking red drinks. It may have been the creator’s way of showing lust and desire, but I took all of them as beautiful dancing red flags! Even at a moment when Max was starting to show his true colors, he was interrupted by a woman in a red dress as if the story was trying to warn Ethan to get the fuck out of there. I loved seeing little things like that throughout the movie!
My favorite character was Max because he left me so flipping confused! I wanted to hate him; I really did. But every time he flashed a smile, I smiled with him and then had to remind myself that he is a fucking bad guy! It makes for a great villain because it gives us all a false sense of security.
The cast and crew for this movie did a great job! I was very impressed with this and was blown away by the acting. The soup scene alone was enough to make you never want soup again, and that’s just based on the reactions the actors brought to the table.
Was there True Fear? Yes! This movie was littered with True Fear. It’s not so much that I connected with the protagonists, but just that I was worried for their well being in general. I was actually scared for everyone involved because in this movie, no one really wins.