Review Date: May 22, 2002
Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release date: 9/10/2002
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
Since childhood, Kelly (Daphne Zuniga) has been having the same reoccurring nightmare. In the dream Kelly is a young child. She's awoken late one night by strange noises from her parents bedroom. Kelly goes into the bedroom and discovers her parents making love on the bed. The nightmare always ends with the same image: a strange man entering who, after a brief struggle with Kelly's father (Clu Gulager), is engulfed in flames. Further complicating her situation, Kelly fell out of her tree house when she was 9 years old and ended up with amnesia. She remembers nothing before age nine.
Kelly is now a college student. She's a pledge in one of the fraternities, and hell week has just begun for the pledges. Throughout the week they'll have various work assignments and a frat party. After that comes prank night, where the plan is for the pledges to sneak into Kelly's father's emporium. Once in they'll have to steal the night watchmen's uniform, right down to his underwear.
Meanwhile, Kelly has a psych. term paper to work on. She's doing the paper on dreams and nightmares. When she tells her teacher, Peter (James Read), of her planned topic, he accuses her of trying to "brown nose" due to his own interest in dreams. Kelly explains her reoccurring nightmare to Peter, who then offers to help her in his "dream factory" - his own private office to study dream patterns. As Kelly and Peter start to make progress on her dream, Kelly's Mom (Vera Miles) shows up and demands they stop.
Three hundred miles away, a group of mental patients have escaped from their institution. At least one of them show's up in Kelly's neck of the woods, and they're on a killing spree. When prank night arrives, Kelly and the other pledges head into the emporium to carry out their mission. Unbeknownst to them, several fraternity members and their boyfriends sneak in after them to do a bit of scaring. Unbeknownst to all of them, a homicidal maniac has also snuck into the mall. What follows is a night of blood and carnage, revealing the dark and deadly secrets from Kelly's past that may just kill her.
Yet another 80s slasher flick! The supply of these seems infinite. Fortunately, The Initiation isn't all bad. It does have some originality to it, and it's even mildly entertaining - I was plenty surprised by the unpredictable climax. Like many slasher flicks, it tends to drag before it gets to the good stuff. There's sprinkles of nudity and an occasional killing mixed throughout to help keep you awake, but the movie doesn't really get good until the last 30 minutes. That's when most of the murders takes place. The first hour could have easily been trimmed to a more bearable 15-30 minutes. The murders rate average at best. There just isn't enough gore or creativity in them to satisfy the hardcore slasher fans.
I'm leaving out many of the details to the movie as I don't want to spoil it for anyone. Daphne Zuniga (of Melrose Place fame) does a fine job as Kelly, and both Clu Gulager (Return of the Living Dead) and Vera Miles (Psycho) do great as her parents. The rest of the performances are that of your typical sub par slasher actors.
The Initiation is not a horror classic by any stretch of the word. If you can get past the aforementioned shortcomings, chances are you'll find some enjoyment in this one.
The Initiation is presented in an anamorphic widescreen transfer its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The image is sharp and clear with very little grain present. Color remain strong and vivid, and flesh tones appear accurate throughout. There are good share of minor print blemishes that are present. These are mostly small vertical white lines on the print, but there are also some specks that appear. Overall an excellent transfer. I'm rating it with a B+.
A Dolby Stereo track is included. Not really any channel separation here, so there isn't a lot to talk about. Sound and dialogue are clear and audible throughout the movie. There was no distortion or other problems found.
Anchor Bay went light with the extras, including only a theatrical trailer.
The Initiation is a mildly entertaining slasher if you can get past its shortcomings. The first hour is a bit dull, but after that it gets good. The story itself isn't half bad, it's just too drawn out. Murder scenes rate average and there's a reasonable amount of gore, though not enough to satisfy the gore fiends (is there ever?). The DVD is light on the extras - only the theatrical trailer is included - but Anchor Bay did a great job with the audio/video.
Movie - C+
Image Quality - B+
Sound - B+
Supplements - C-
- Running Time - 1 hour 37 minutes
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- Chapter stops
- Dolby Stereo