Starring: Isabella Gomez, Lindsay LaVanchy and Froy Gutierrez
Booze, babes and bros. These are the very first things you'd see in this flick as the frat brothers and sorority sisters of Whinton University party it up one night for that typical campus debauchery. For one science major named Ellery, however, she's about to become a part of something far more serious when she unknowingly makes her way to a suspiciously locked room where one of her sorority sisters, Kylie, is seen passed out with Wes, Ellery's star athlete brother.
Believing something happened behind that closed door, Ellery tries to talk Kylie into opening up what went down that night in the following morning, but the girl claims she doesn't remember. It seems that this isn't the first time Wes got into this sort of trouble as talks of "what happened last year" are brought up once again and, with access to the campus' labs, Ellery attempts sort the matter out by running a few DNA sequences on Kylie's discarded clothes to check if her brother involved himself to a possible assault. Unbeknownst to her, someone in a hood and mask decided to end Wes' life by slaughtering him with a powerdrill, starting off an investigation and a brutal bodycount as those seemingly connected to the incident start dying one by one.
Intriguing to note here that despite having the face and plot of your classic campus slasher, Initiation (2021) took a more procedural approach to its story which has its pros and cons depending on how well you take the direction; there's a greater emphasis on building up a mystery here, done in this sleek yet near-realistic feel wherein characters are flawed and the situation can get grittier, with little to no horror going on for a good bulk. In fact, the first half hour of the movie felt closer to a teen crime drama than a stabby slasher, pacing itself to a crawl under the purpose of developing its red herrings and twists and it continues to do so even once the murders start happening.
This leads to a lot of scenes focusing on the fallout of the grisly killings, showing how the characters and the campus itself react to the tragedies which does add some depth and emotional layer for the increasingly dire predicament through incisive writing and genuine acting. The price of this, however, is a rather minuscule kill count and a slow burn that can get really testy for those who doesn't have the patience for it. Nevertheless, the movie never forgot to reward horror fans who are willing to stick around for its story as it can get brutal when it needs to be brutal, intense when it needs to be intense, all the while flipping some tropes in a workable turn.
Though the killings throughout the film are satisfyingly gruesome, it is the last act of the Initiation (2021) where the slasher elements finally take full force as our masked maniac (refreshingly portrayed to be as realistically human) takes over a nearly abandoned campus office to murder away all who are left there. It is undoubtedly the movie's strongest part, with great tension to behold mostly from our female leads doing their best to stay hidden from the killer in that classic cat-and-mouse prowl, just one head turn and/or one flashlight away from being caught.
While far from a title one could loose sleep over, Initiation (2021) is at least a competent little horror thriller that does the job good enough. A little unique in its form, yes, but casual horror fans can definitely find a decent murder mystery here for that one rainy afternoon.
1 male powerdrilled to a door, neck later found cut
1 male stabbed in the head with a knife
1 male gets powerdrilled to the throat
1 male gets powerdrilled to the chest, stabbed and gutted with a knife