I decided to RedBox this one; it was filmed locally near Cincinnati, Ohio and I know several people in the film. I also knew it was going to be an intense experience from the trailers I’d seen.
It’s the story of two brothers, one an established member of a frat (Nick Jonas) and his younger brother (Ben Schnetzer) who wants to join. While the hazing rituals in a frat are normally intense, things are made worse by the fact that Brad, the younger brother, experienced a brutal attack one night after a party.
It’s unclear why Brad was attacked; at first I thought perhaps it was a frat ritual gone bad. But instead, the perps were simply thugs who seemed extra brutal for no good reason.
The initiation scenes are also brutal to watch. There’s lots of screaming; degrading the pledges seems to fuel the machismo of the established frat members. And when we meet a legendary “brother” (James Franco), it’s easy to see that his is a fixed culture within the group.
Jonas is a solid actor, as is Schnetzer. They do a fine job with a thin script. Despite lackluster material, one can feel their relationship and the bumps brothers in this situation would experience.
While much of the film feels like an opportunity to showcase half-naked people doing humiliating things, there is an emotional arc buried in between scenes of men urinating on others and people being threatened with having to fornicate with a goat.
While it was fun to see a few of my friends on the screen, I wouldn’t recommend the film. It’s unnecessarily violent and often difficult to watch. But for a mindless passage of time on a holiday weekend, it sufficed. Epsecially for $1.50.
Director: Andrew Neel Writer(s): David Gordon Green, Brad Land (memoir) Notable Cast: Nick Jonas, James Franco
Kirk Sheppard has been involved in professional wrestling since 2000. He has worked behind the scenes in multiple capacities as well as ring announcing, managing, refereeing, and having the occasional match. He can be seen every weekend appearing on live events for the Northern Wrestling Federation in the Greater Cincinnati area. Kirk is also a playwright, amateur magician, theme park enthusiast, musician, photographer, teacher, trainer, mentor, and counselor. His first full-length play was workshopped and produced last August in Newport, KY. Tweet him at @kirksheppard