Some say fraternities foster life-long bonds of friendship and brotherhood. This film plays it a little differently.
Here in the UK, we don’t do fraternities, as people who enjoy each other’s company tend to live together anyway without the need for three letters of the Greek alphabet. But in the States, if you’re not living in a frat or sorority house, you’re not living at all.
So when Adam (ably played by Jurassic Park III‘s Trevor Morgan) has his heart set on joining a local fraternity, he along with a few others knows that it’s going to involve some hazing. For those of you who aren’t in the know, this essentially involves a series of odd, usually violent or sexually humiliating challenges prospective members must undergo in order to become brothers of the fraternity.
So, Jackass with an undergraduate degree. But when they’re all told to rob a grocery store and it goes seriously wrong, do they stick together, or do they fall apart?
Brotherhood‘s a pretty clever film when it comes to portraying its own vision of frat boys. They’re not all handsome party animals with good grades and high alcohol tolerances. They’re violent, selfish, sexually aggressive and willing to do whatever it takes to stay in college and avoid jail, even if it means more of the above, to extremes they’d never before imagined.
Without spoiling the plot, though it wouldn’t take a genius to figure out what goes wrong in a store robbery in the gun-happy USA, it’s entertaining to watch the fraternity begin to fragment as you discover that those who aren’t in yet aren’t quite as committed to the cover-up lifestyle of the fraternity’s less PR-friendly activities.
Director and writer Will Canon does an admirable job of ensuring that we never view anyone’s actions as anything but morally reprehensible. Adam works well as an anti-hero, and Morgan does a fine job of convincing you he’s losing the plot as everything gets steadily worse and worse.
Outside the narrative, however, what strikes me as the most impressive aspect of this film is its smart use of budget. There are no long, dramatic gunfights, or explosions, or excessive gore – everything is very real, and the cinematography keeps the pace quick – though at a mere 85 minutes that’s not a tough job.
It may seem like a short film, but it charts the course of one all-nighter at a speed that means you’re rarely left fidgeting in your seat. For those sick and tired of the glamourisation of fraternity life and wanting something more realistic, a dramatic exposé, of the hazing rituals in the USA, then this is just the film for you.
Of course, if you’re looking for a thriller that’s fast-paced and has a horrid twist in its tail, then this should also do the job. Worth a look if you’re feeling a bit tired of the endless American Pie iterations, and dark enough to be taken as a serious warning against the excesses of campus life.