The 2000s were obsessed with horror remakes. Almost no film left the decade unscathed. Some were successful both critically and financially (Dawn of the Dead) while others were…not (Pulse). But there was clearly an appetite for it with audiences – even if there were plenty of complaints from genre fans.
The 2006 remake of the TV movie The Initiation of Sarah comes off like TV pilot more than anything else. Though it treads new ground, it’s not exactly a place we wanted to go.
Like the original, the story is about two sisters who are going to college for their freshman year. In this version, however, we have biological twins. Sarah, the angsty Avril Lavigne type, and her mumbling, sweet twin Lindsay are both vying to get into the sorority their mother was in, Alpha Nu. Sarah isn’t into it, being catty towards the other initiates. Lindsay, on the other hand, is desperate to have a chance to make friends.
Both sisters receive invites to Pi Epsilon Delta, the Alpha Nu rivals, but Lindsay seems determined to follow in her mother’s footsteps.
In the meantime, Sarah meets Dr Hunter, the house mother (or something), of Pi Epsilon Delta. Dr Hunter reveals that both she and Sarah have powers. She’s willing to teach Sarah to use them. Oh and the two sororities are pitted against each other in a battle of good and evil. The Alpha Nus are life-stealing hags who possess the ability to live forever. And apparently, with everlasting life, they would just like to hang out at college, please.
Unlike the original film, which had a dash of paranormal powers a la Carrie, the supernatural is amped up to the nth degree. All the girls are basically witches, throwing spells at each other and throwing around magical daggers. It’s…something. Especially with some low-tier CGI thrown in. What their powers are or why they have them isn’t totally clear, but the Alph Nus definitely want “the One” – the girl they can sacrifice to retain their youthfulness.
There was so much random plot going on that I was checked out. While the original didn’t give enough, this remake gave too much. It really didn’t make complete sense to me, but I guess that’s what I get for thinking more about food during my viewing than the finer points of why Sarah had to have sex with that guy to save him from being sacrificed. (Like…are all virgins sacrificed? Why so many sacrifices? Why do they NEED sacrifices if the One is supposed to be, well, the One!)
Some of this was campier, but just not enough for it to be fun. I was bored. It wasn’t a good time. For god’s sake: Jennifer Tilly and Morgan Fairchild are in this! Why wasn’t there an ultimate bitch showdown between the two?? In general, I wasn’t buying any of the relationships in this story. The sisters had no chemistry. The sorority sisters had no chemistry. The love interest had no chemistry with Sarah. It was just all so…bland.
And there was a touch of character development in the original. The girls here are just blank stereotypes. While there was a clear “good vs evil” here, it felt like you couldn’t root for a single one of them.
But the biggest disappointment was the ending. It went out like a fart. The ending for the 1978 version made me gleeful. It was so horrible, yet fun in the most TV movie sort of way. Easily the highlight of the entire story. Here? Well, the girls form up a squad of sorority sister killers. What a gas! I’m glad the audio cut out on the version I was watching for I could bear no more…
Ultimately, while I didn’t love the original very much, it was more tolerable than this dated nonsense. I’m ready to just forget this one and move on to April, where the theatrical movies live.