A bit of a forgotten slasher effort of the ‘80s, The Initiation follows the exploits of sorority hopeful Kelly Fairchild (Daphne Zuniga) as she pledges a sorority during her freshman year of college. Kelly and her fellow pledges are tasked with sneaking into her father’s shopping center and stealing the night guard’s uniform. Naturally, there is an escaped psychopath on the loose that makes their task anything but easy.
The Initiation is a sufficiently cheesy ‘80s sorority slasher with all of the typical stereotypes present. Charles Pratt Jr. who later went on to cast Zuniga in Melrose Place wrote the screenplay. Larry Stewart, who died in 1997, directed the film and it remains his only feature. The script is below average slasher fare and the direction is anything but keen. The film sadly fails to live up to the standard set by sorority slashers like The House on Sorority Row. The Initiation never pushes the envelope on gore or shock value and is easily forgettable. It does manage to surpass the quality of Zuniga’s other ‘80s campus horror flick P.R.A.N.K.S. aka The Dorm that Dripped Blood, but that’s really not saying much.
The performances in The Initiation are well below average: it’s obvious that this was an early acting role for Daphne Zuniga and that she was still learning some of the finer points of her craft. The film’s other leads turn in equally unconvincing performances. This, among other flaws makes it really hard to suspend disbelief and forget (even briefly) that you’re watching a movie.
One of the select few elements that works in the film’s favor is a supporting performance by horror icon Clu Gulager as Kelly’s father. With that said, he’s more than serviceable but even his is not able to save the film from itself.
The gore effects, though simplistic and a bit tame, aren’t entirely bad. There are a couple of noteworthy death scenes. The film earns some minor creativity points for using a trowel as one of the primary murder weapons.
Many of the flaws found within The Initiation can be attributed to budgetary constraints. In fact, a shot from one of the kill scenes was used multiple times because the shooting schedule was so tight that it didn’t allow for the crew to go back and reshoot the same scene. If you’re an utter slasher completist and you can overlook some of the film’s numerous shortcomings, you may find something to like about the flick. Don’t expect perfection or anything more than mediocrity and you may not totally hate it. But no promises.
Director(s): Larry Stewart
Writer(s): Charles Pratt Jr.
Stars: Daphne Zuniga, Clu Gulager, Vera Miles
Studio/ Production Co: New World Pictures
Length: 97 Minutes