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INITIATION OF SARAH
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Reviewed by: Pat Torfe

Directed by: Stuart Gillard

Starring:
Mika Boorem
Summer Glau
Morgan Fairchild
Jennifer Tilly

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about

Sarah Goodwin, a young woman with CARRIE-eqsue powers, and her sister Lindsey go off to college and enter sorority life. The two are soon caught between Alpha Nu Gamma and Pi Epsilon Delta, rival sororities that turn out to be witches covens. Each sorority grabs a sister, leading to a conflict between the two sisters and the ultimate battle of good vs. evil. Man, I just want some foxy boxing...

Is it good movie?

Yessir, the remake train has jumped the tracks in TV land, taking the original 1978 classic starring Shelley Winters with it. And that's not all, schmoes. This remake was produced by the good folks at ABC Family, aka one of Disney bigwig Michael Eisner's mistakes. Now if the combination of 'Disney' and 'horror' doesn't make for good viewing, I don't know what will. Granted, someone must have been asleep at the wheel for letting this one by the bigwigs, as this puppy throws out a lot of questionable stuff suitable for family viewing, including suggested lesbianism, blood drinking, ritualistic sacrifices, mean-girl cliques and even a suicide attempt (mine did not count after watching this tripe, if you're wondering). But even with those tempting morsels of goodness, the film still comes across as 'Felicity' and CARRIE stuck in a blender and the results tossed onscreen. Slug it down.

The film starts out with Sarah (played by Mika Boorem) and her sister Lindsey (Summer Glau) attending Temple Hill University, with both all but guaranteed acceptance into Alpha Gamma Nu, the most popular sorority on campus, which their wealthy mother was once a member (Morgan Fairchild, who co-starred in the original version). Lindsay, worried that her sister will ruin her chances, tries desperately to get into the sorority's queen witch Chorinne's good graces. Chorinne, however, is only interested in Sarah, as Sarah is 'The One'. You see, Alpha Gamma Nu has a sacrificial altar in their basement surrounded by eternal flames, which keep the girls youthful and powerful. Problem is, the flames are dying out (doesn't that make them the opposite of eternal?), and only the blood of 'The One' can keep them going. As things go, Sarah has to willingly give herself over to be sacrificed in the form of being initiated into the sorority. I guess Keanu wasn't available.

However, Sarah is alerted to this impending danger by Dr. Hunter (Jennifer Tilly), the college’s European Mysticism instructor, and head mistress of Pi Epsilon Delta, the counterbalance of good witches to Alpha Gamma Nu. Why Ms. Tilly is in this film, I have no idea (must have been a bad streak in poker). Furthermore, does anyone see Jennifer as the scholarly type? No disrespect to Ms. Tilly (she is an Academy award-nominated actress, after all), but having her as a professor is like having Wesley Snipes as your accountant. It makes no sense, which is a recurring theme for the majority of the roles in this film. The acting by all parties is quite good, but the problem lies in the fact that the roles don’t fit. That, and the fact that the film feels a lot like MEAN GIRLS mashed up with an episode of ‘Charmed’.

Furthermore, ABC Family’s fingers are way up in this film’s colon, as any dark and serious stuff tossed our way (which the original had) is equally kicked to the curb. Case in point: the film alludes to suicide (namely the scars on Sarah’s wrists and her implied attempts prior), which is obviously a dark and serious subject to tackle, but the film passes it off with something out of left field that doesn’t even involve Sarah (nor does she even learn of the revelation, for that matter). Toss in some innuendos, a lesbian kiss, backstabbing, hocus pocus occult stuff and an allusion to Sarah losing her virginity prior to the final conflict with your typical hunky guy, and you have a film that is as vapid and frustrating as its target audience of 14-year old girls, pleasing few and pissing on the original's superiority.

Aside from the acting, is there anything else redeemable about the film? Well, at the very least, Summer Glau found work after this as Cameron in ‘Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles’, and the acting makes the movie pass by somewhat painlessly (though the finale is just plain stupid). Other than that, stick with the superior Kay Lenz original (which was for a time being streamed online over at ABC Family’s website), or go watch THE CRAFT, THE CONVENT or CARRIE instead.

Video / Audio

Video: Don’t be fooled by the back of the DVD case. The film may be unrated, but it’s still the same TV-14 tripe that was broadcast on ABC Family. That said, the one change is the fact that the DVD is in anamorphically enhanced 1.78:1 widescreen, whereas the original broadcast was in fullscreen. The image is quite good, with a sharp, clear picture and subtle color values. Blacks hold up throughout, with no compression issues to speak of.

Audio: The Dolby Digital English 5.1 Surround mix is also pretty good. Full-bodied, with plenty of directionality during the effects sequences. English and Spanish subtitles are also included, as are closed-captions.

The Extras

Drier than a popcorn fart. Nada.

Last Call

Chalk up another needless remake to a classic TV movie that has been sullied by this stupid crap. Throw in a bargain bin DVD, and you have another skeet for shooting. Further proof that Disney is evil on earth, and that nothing is sacred to teenage girls.

ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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