A surprisingly entertaining collegiate horror film that delivers the suspense, thrills, and gore, Initiation is a slasher film where the killing actually takes a backseat to the overarching drama, for better or for worse.
When a star athlete is murdered during a university’s pledge week, the campus is thrown into turmoil as police attempt to solve the mysterious crime as dark secrets begin spilling out about school. To be honest, I had a lot of fun with Initiation mainly because it reminded me of Scream in so many ways. Why are these killings happening? Who is behind the mask? Beyond that, everyone pretty much delivers their A-games with solid acting turns and attractive cinematography that captures the feel of a college campus. Where Initiation falters is in some of the scenes between the action, moments where the story is (importantly) being further developed, but in long spurts that slow the overall film down. It is also in these moments that Initiation’s unique approach to the genre gets muddled; where a subplot of a sexual assault coverup fuels the much of the film, it gets lost in the third act and never satisfyingly resolved.
Overall, Initiation is a lot of fun and a film that I wish more people knew about. New filmmaker John Berardo certainly knows his way around suspense and is one that I will be keeping an eye out for in the future. Whereas similar films deliver the same old story wrapped in new packaging, Initiation is a smart slasher film that intriguingly has more to say. More films like this, please!
Initiation is now available in limited theaters, VOD, and digital.
Photo from The Austin Chronicle