Monday, March 3, 2014

The Price of Wanting: Alpha Girls (2013)

Alpha Girls (2013)
Rating: ***
Starring:  Nikki Bell, Nicole Cinaglia, Christine Fisler

What I love about the slasher sub-genre is that it's malleable; while some sees Freddy Krueger's control over dream-world laws an inventive way for a slasher to do his dirty deeds, some may find it too "colorful" and lost in transition from everything that made a slasher movie what it is, which is basically some guy killing people with a sharp and/or blunt weapon. For me it's all about structure; so long as there's emphasis on stalking victims and ruthlessly dispatching them all for the count, it's bound to be reviewed here as a slasher no matter who or what the killer is. (Death, Evil monkeys and killer robots, you have a home here!)

The reason why brought this up is because Alpha Girls, despite being marketed as a slasher, never felt like one as a whole. It is more or less The Craft with a bodycount as four new pledges find themselves terrorised by their sisters through a series of humiliating pranks and unfair chores during Hell Week. Sensing some abuse of power, Cassidy (Beverly Rivera), one of the pledges with a mysterious dark past, played the girls into doing an invoking, asking the Unholy One to grant them whatever they desire. At a price of course.

One by one, the girls start to have their wishes granted such as good grades, riches beyond what they could spend, a love life, pretty much all the power they could ask for. In return, they have to kill in order for it to last; this, so far, sounds like a great reason to start a killing spree but this is where most of the 80s slasher elements wavered a bit as the girls chickened out on their second kill, forcing Cassidy to start killing them one by one in place of their victims. Sound pretty promising, but do understand there's only four of them in the group and the whole spree happened within five minutes with last third felt like a climax of a supernatural thriller with some useless twists thrown in and more non-slashery killings happened.

To be fair, I do see scenes influenced by campus set horror films in general, some of them being slashers (Pledge NightHouse on Sorority Row and Suspiria to be more particular) but these were more on the scare scenes rather than the promised killings. Alpha Girls is closer to those colourful Satanism films popularised in the 70s, one involving killer cults that harvest victims rather than chasing them down in an exciting hunt, all the while mixing in some teenage drama that felt like an Sunday afternoon special about the evils of the Devil and how accepting God can save you. As a (sort-of) lapsed Catholic and a bit of a religious skeptic, I find this (cheesy) sweet, but in a B-grade horror movie, this is just sad. And forced. And did I mentioned a little out of place?

Still, I try not to let the film's identity get the best of me; it is still a fun and cheesy horror flick that harks back to simpler times where tales of good and evil all sounds shallow but effective. There is bound to be some strangeness here if you consider hiring porn legend Ron Jeremy to play a priest in a very straight role but the story is considerably watchable, if not oddly gratuitous-free. (no random nudity here, pants. This one's friendly with the girls) The gore is okay, but with its promise of splatter that matters, Alpha Girls sadly had its disappointing moments relying on CG blood or the fact that half of the killings barely met up with the visceral opening murder, which on its own doubles as the nastiest kill of the film.

Through these ups and down, Alpha Girls is a pretty good effort of a debut film for co-directors Tony Trov and Johnny Zito. It may sound like I hated it, but I really did like it. Probably not to the extent that I'll lose some sleep over it but more as a decent time passer. You simply can't go wrong with familiar grounds and this movie did okay.

1 female gutted alive with dagger
1 female hacked to death with an axe
1 female hanged with undergarment
1 female had her throat cut with a glass shard
5 females seen smothered in plastic bags and crucified to the floor
1 male got his heart torn off from his chest
1 female disemboweled
1 female burned to death
Total: 12

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