Horror Club: Pledge
College years can be some of the most fun years of your life - as well as some of the most stressful. College can be metaphorically described as a fight for your life as you battle written papers, long days and the absurd cost of going to school; but what happens when college becomes a literal fight for your life? In Pledge, the new horror film written by Zack Weiner and directed by Daniel Robbins, pledging for a fraternity becomes a living hell for five aspiring members of an off-campus frat as they attempt to survive forty eight hours of physical, mental, and emotional exploitation to prove their masculinity... at least that's what they're told. In "Pledge," few get in and none get out. (Possible spoilers ahead - proceed with caution!)
The film follows a trio of nerdy friends - David (Zack Weiner), Ethan (Phillip Andre Botello), and Justin (Zachery Byrd) - as they bounce from fraternity to fraternity during pledge week hoping to find a brotherhood to join. After being rejected by a handful, the group are invited to an exclusive party out in the middle of no where to a beautiful mansion where they are surrounded by liquor, beautiful women, and seemingly successful seniors. After having a great night, they are invited back the following night - along with two other pledges - and are told they would be spending the next 48 hours with the three frat brothers who live at the house. After turning in their phones and locking the doors, life becomes a living hell for the five pledges as intense "hazing" kicks right off, and only gets worse and worse and worse as the hours progress. From branding to choking to whipping and beyond, the boys are pushed to their limits and soon begin to realize that this isn't actually hazing... it's torture, and they are in grave danger. As they juggle the desire to join the social club and the desire to stay alive, the guys must fight for their lives to escape the sick and fucked up minds of the brothers. It becomes a literal game of kill or be killed, and it's a twisted game from start to finish.
Pledge looked pretty entertaining from the trailer alone, but I'll admit I was hesitant going into it because i wasn't sure how good a film like this could be. And boy, was I blown away after the first half hour. The film is a very quick watch - clocking in at only an hour and seventeen minutes - but the team behind this film managed to pack a whole lot of punch into those seventy seven minutes. The first half hour essentially just sets up the story for our trio of friends, cleverly placing them in the hands of (unbeknownst to them) danger - and they do it with some pretty comedic elements to it to really start the film off on a light note. But once the doors to the house get locked and the guys are at the mercy of the frat brothers, all hell breaks loose - the torture rituals continue straight until the end of the movie. While there's not a ton of blood, there are numerous times I cringed at parts in the movie that are just twisted and fucked up, and that words just cannot do justice for. The frat brothers do some seriously sick shit to the five pledges that they have locked in their house, and it's hour after hour of mental and physical torture for the poor pledges. While you certainly don't gain any emotional attachment to any of the pledges, I feel like many people will grow to like them simply because they feel like they're your every day kind of nerdy guys. Just trying to fit in and have fun. But I definitely wouldn't want to be stuck in their shoes in Pledge - nothing good happens to them once the party ends, the girls leave and the doors are locked.
If you're a fan of the Hostel franchise of films, then Pledge is undoubtedly for you. It's a light-hearted, fun yet tortuous mind trip of a film, with an unexpected twist ending and plenty of wince-inducing scenes. The best part is that it's not some over-the-top, unrealistic torture - nothing you see is anything that can't happen to you in your own home. So in that sense, the film is very realistic and possible, and gains extra points in my book for that. It's essentially just fraternity hazing taken to an extreme - and it's done really well. After the film ended, I was shocked at just how much I loved this one for being an easy and fucked up twisted movie. While it isn't necessarily a cult-classic type of movie, it's definitely earned its place as must-see for fans of the torture genre, as I think those types of people would definitely appreciate the quick pace from hazing to downright evil goes. The acting, the comedy, the location, the torture, and the villains - Pledge hits the nail on the head as far as I'm concerned, and for that - I'm rating this one as a must-see for Soulless Cult fans. You'll love the beginning to end journey, and even more than that, you'll love the surprise twist ending that takes the film to the next level. Check this one out!
Check out the trailer below for Pledge, available now on video on demand services!