Before you start reading my first 2019 review (on the January 17th… crazy, right?), I want to add that from now on I’ll list at the end of each article the list of people who supported my work giving one or more donations through the past so many months. I felt that it was at least worth acknowledging their effort… thank you all for your support, it meant a lot and it helps me beyond measure!
Also, if you see more links, ads and annoying stuff on my articles this year, please understand that this for me is a proper job, thus I decided to make deals with a few companies for them to advertise their products on my website. However, these ads will always be positive for you as well, since you might get discounts on horror-related products. It’s a win-win situation!
Without further ado, let’s talk Pledge, the latest IFC Midnight release about a group of losers – the biggest you can think of – trying to join a cool fraternity to make college good for them.
After an opening scene that sets up the tone for the whole movie, with an injured guy running away from something scary and being knocked out by a baseball bat, Pledge introduces us to its main characters: David (Zack Weiner, who also wrote the script for the film), Ethan (Phillip Andre Botello) and Justin (Zachary Byrd). As I was saying, they’re the biggest losers, being kicked out of parties, refused by girls and avoided by the other kids. When beautiful and sexy Rachel approaches them, however, their day takes an unexpected turn: they’re invited to join the party of an exclusive fraternity, where they’re welcomed by strong booze, boundary-free ladies and some good old drugs! After a legendary night, our main characters are sent home but required to be back the next day: as opposed to finding the same situation, the three guys – and two other guests – are now invited to pledge in order to be part of the fraternity. But the pledge requires extreme sacrifices…
Continue reading below…
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Despite its budget restraints, Pledge is a damn effective horror/thriller. Even the simple and basic production values work in its favour, since everything in the movie feels smaller than life, if you get what I mean. Also, performances and characters very much help to move past the unrealistic bits – because yes, there are a few moments when you really need to suspend your disbelief in order not to be taken out of the experience.
For once, protagonists and villains feel genuine and believable, with their acting that doesn’t feel outstanding, but it seems extremely realistic. Kudos to Zack Weiner to write such good characters, with clear motivations and mostly great chemistry. I should also praise Cameron Cowperthwaite, who plays one of the fraternity members: to me, his performance stands out due to the different nuances he’s able to convey throughout the runtime.
Yet, the story goes beyond ‘only’ being intense and violent, with continuous twists and turns that keep surprising the viewer without being ever manipulative or cheap. Did I mention the violence? Yes, Pledge definitely benefits from an R rating, because there are many sequences which feature quite uncomfortable content. The movie never gets overly graphic – so if you don’t like extreme gore, you’re safe watching Pledge.
As much as I’d recommend Pledge to basically any horror fan, the movie has quite a few flaws: nothing major, don’t get me wrong, but they’re there. I’ve already mentioned how the technical features are quite average and don’t feature any creative visual.
Yet, some moments seem overacted, resulting in unintentionally funny bits that probably were intended to come off as such. Also, I feel like the ending isn’t fully satisfying: I guess some people will hate it and some others will find it at least disappointing. It definitely did not affect my viewing experience, but I do wish there was more to it.
Nevertheless, check Pledge out as soon as you can, you won’t regret it.
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