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The Row (2018)

Lionsgate
Blu-ray Disc Released: 9/25/2018

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/21/2018

For many people, college is a life-changing event and it's something which everyone experiences differently. Most universities have a wealth of opportunities and most students can find a niche in which they fit. And for some, that niche lies in fraternities and sororities. The "Greek system" has been around for centuries and it's a standard part of many colleges. So, the question must be asked, why do these organizations get portrayed so poorly in movies? There are countless films in which frat brothers are depicted as arrogant douchebags and sorority sisters are shown as airheaded bimbos. What can't some movie show these people in a positive light? One thing's for sure, The Row is not that movie.

Riley (Lala Kent) has just arrived at college and she can't wait to get started. While she loves her overly protective police detective father, Cole (Randy Couture), she's looking forward to having some unsupervised fun with her friend, Becks (Mia Frampton). They decide to attend a sorority function and they are both chosen as pledges. Riley is very surprised to learn that her late mother was once a member of this same sorority. As her father has told her very little of her mom, Riley is anxious to learn more about her time in school. Meanwhile, someone is killing off the sorority sisters in very gruesome ways. Does Riley's quest for knowledge about the past have a link to the murders in the present?

You know how some movies grab you with the opening scene and your find your eyes glued to the screen after that? The Row opens with Cole dropping Riley off at college, where we see him have an awkward altercation with another driver. Following this, we see Cole and his team infiltrate a warehouse, where they are looking for criminals. A gunfight ensues and Cole kills someone. Not really knowing what The Row was about, I assumed that the spirit of this victim would somehow become involved in the plot. Nope. The movie apparently just wanted to have an big action scene, as this is never really relevant again.

Following this, the movie settles into its basic plot, showing Riley's college activities. And this is where The Row reveals itself to be a wildly uneven movie. It's feels as if someone came into possession of leftover footage from some MTV Spring Break special and decides to build a movie around it. So, we are treated to a lot of footage of college girls in bikinis who are drinking and dancing. Along with this, we have a Z-grade slasher film/murder mystery, in which a killer, wearing a costume which they bought on November 1st at "Spirit Halloween", stalks the sorority sisters. While this is happening, Riley is asking about her mom and Cole is tracking the killer (despite the fact that he got suspended for killing that person in the opening). The result is a movie which wants to be taken seriously, but is constantly doing something to sully that quest. Along with the drunken sorority girl shenanigans, how can we take a movie seriously when there is a scene in which a guy is nice enough to drive a drunk girl home, but he then leaves her car in a handicapped parking space. Why do her a favor and then have her car get towed?

Astute horror movie fans will see The Row as a homage to Pieces, but one has to wonder if Director Matty Beckerman and Writer Sarah Scougal are even aware of that goofy classic of Spanish horror. At least Pieces was top-shelf Mystery Science Theater 3000 material. The Row simply comes across as unfocused and amateurish. And while nothing here is original, more could have certainly been done with Riley's look into her mother's past. If you want to see a superior movie in a similar vein, then check out 1974's Black Christmas or 1983's The House of Sorority Row. In other words, don't rush to see The Row.

The Row certainly feels like hazing on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Lionsgate. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 26 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no noticeable grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, mostly notably reds and blues, and the picture is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is fair, although the image is soft at times, and the depth is adequate. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at an average of 4.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The music in the party scenes delivers notable subwoofer effects. There are a few moments where we get obvious surround and stereo effects, but they aren't terribly detailed, but the movement of sounds form front to back is smooth.

The Row Blu-ray Disc offers a few extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Matty Beckerman. "Making The Row" (6 minutes) is a brief featurette which offers comments from nearly every cast member, as well as Beckerman, as this group talks about the story and the production. The only other extra is a TRAILER for the film.

Review Copyright 2018 by Mike Long