Time for another installment of Final Girl Film Club. This time, Stacie Ponder chose the 1984 slasher-flick The Initiation. I was pretty excited when she chose it because it has Daphne Zuniga, Clu Gulager, and Vera Miles. It’s like some kind of glorious tv movie! Aside from the cast, it’s a sorority-slasher movie that seemed to have hints of Satanism mixed in. I love that mix! Sadly, the Satanism was just a red-herring, kind of. The movie itself was funny and fun to watch–although not necessarily for the reasons the filmmakers would have wanted–but it just wasn’t that scary.
Daphne Zuniga stars as Kelly Fairchild, a college student pledging with the Delta Ro Kai sorority.
Her parents are played by Vera Miles and Clu Gulager. They’re moderately suspicious and slightly evil. Dad is keeping track of the breakout at a mental institution.
Kelly is doing her psychology thesis on dreams and dream analysis. At first her T.A., Peter (James Read), is suspicious of her because he’s doing his doctoral thesis on dreams, but then he realizes that cute people don’t cheat. He also realizes that Kelly might be an intriguing case study, since she’s had a recurring nightmare from the time she was nine. In fact, the movie opens with Kelly’s nightmare. She’s in bed, in the nightmare, and she wakes up and catches her mom having sex. She tries to stab the guy and then a guy in a suit is attacking the sex guy. Nude guy pours something on Suit guy’s head and Suit guy catches on fire from the fireplace. This is when we meet my favorite character in the movie, Heidi (Joy Jones), who’s Peter’s assistant.
She’s sassy and awkward so you know I love her. It’s like watching me in a movie!
People start being picked off the night of the sorority dance. Kelly’s dad is killed by someone in a blue shirt with an eensie gardening pitchfork thingie.
There are lots of P.O.V. shots, so we know whenever the killer is around.
Is the killer this guy?
Who knows? I can tell you that this part is half-an-hour into the movie and they have yet to be locked in the mall for the sorority initiation. Instead, we get about fifteen minutes of wacky eighties party antics. I am in no way complaining, I love eighties party montages. We also get treated to this face.
That’s Meg (Frances Peterson) and she hates Kelly because the annoying guy that Meg likes has been hitting on Kelly.
Has it been slow reading this summary? I can tell you that the movie feels very slow until the sorority girls are locked into the mall that Kelly’s father owns. That doesn’t happen until an hour in. I’d consider this movie a slow-burner, but it doesn’t really spend the time it has establishing tension. It also feels like the mall isn’t used to its full potential. I worked in retail through college and I can tell you, that malls after dark are creepy. The only thing really creepy about the mall are these teddy-bears riding a see-saw.
The movie does pick up, once the sorority girls split up, the frat boys who are supposed to scare them arrive, and they all start getting picked off. Meanwhile, Peter and Heidi realize that Kelly’s nightmare is real. Kelly’s mom was having an affair, she caught her mom having sex with her boyfriend, her father walked in and boyfriend burnt dad. But dad’s still alive! He’s the crispy guy from the mental institution. So has he been the one picking off Kelly’s friends?
NO! Here be spoilers but it’s so out of left-field that I have to share. The killer is…Kelly’s twin sister! Who we’ve never heard of before! Seriously, where the hell did she come from? I guess she was in the mental institution too and Kelly’s dad was hunting her down…? I feel like I was supposed to do some reading before I watched this movie.
I’m especially sad that there was no Satanic aspect. I thought they’d be a killer sorority because they woke Kelly up chanting “Be young, stay young,” and because Meg was so mean. Mean people are Satanic. Duh.
My main complaint is that this movie has pacing problems galore. It’s half-an-hour before anyone is killed and an hour before they’re even in the mall.
The effects were ok but the killings weren’t really scary. Plus, the characters were so unlikable that I didn’t really mind seeing them die. Still, the movie was…charming. I think charming is the right word. It made me laugh and didn’t seem to take itself to seriously. Except for once, in this really inappropriate and weird part, when Marcia (Marilyn Kagan), a pledge that everyone rags on for being a virgin, admits that she was molested. That felt so out-of-place. I was watching this with my roommate and both of our jaws dropped because, up til then, this had been a fairly standard, light-hearted eighties slasher.
This movie is not Black Christmas. It isn’t even Hell Night. It’s more like popcorn. Something light and yummy but not really fulfilling.
Past Film Club Offerings