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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Review: Initiation

Director: John Berardo

Screenplay: John Berardo, Lindsay LaVanchy, and Brian Frager

Year: 2021

The murder of a promising athlete in his fraternity house puts the whole university community on high alert. But this is nothing but the first of a series of deaths that takes place there, all equally gruesome. The murders trigger an investigation from the police and some of the students to uncover the reason for the killings, which are tied to an institution’s dark secret and a recurring exclamation sign on social media.

The first minutes of “Initiation” lead the viewer to expect the worst from this movie. How the characters are introduced in these minutes makes them seem superficial and foolish and nothing more than an excuse to justify the body count. However, the script from John Berardo (“The Labyrinth”), Lindsay LaVanchy, and Brian Frager soon diverts from that slasher movie clichĂ© and develops the characters so that we care about them and the situation in the plot.

After the first important event, which takes place at a party in the fraternity house, the movie adopts a more serious tone, and the plot becomes uncomfortable, as it starts to sping around a possible unconsented sex event. I want to take advantage of this moment to warn you that people that might get triggered by these topics to be aware that this is a recurring one in the movie and, although an uncomfortable image about this is never shown, it is always present. Smartly, the screenwriters never crudely expose the theme, but the suggestions they present are more than enough so that the viewer can reach their own conclusions.

The sex without consent theme is so present in this movie that even how the killer claims his victims is a clear reference. The trademark of this killer is that, after killing his victims, he “drills” them to surface as a clear message that his actions are related to this event.

As with any slasher, the deaths are an important factor in determining the quality of the movie, and in this, “Initiation” greatly complies. Although not much is shown while the killer perpetrates the murders, the aftermath is shown in all its glory, and it is gruesome. The practical effects are well used and offer painful and credible scenes. To reinforce these scenes, it helps that the mystery around the killer’s identity lingers, and theories that the viewer can establish about who the person behind the mask might be are constantly being destroyed.

“Initiation”s” first minutes leads you to think that this will be another dumb juvenile slasher, but it goes from less to more slowly winning the viewer’s attention to then reward it with great gory images, the mystery around the killer, a surprising ending, and an important message about how some institutions protect people that commit this acts because of their promising future or just to avoid affecting the place’s reputation, but it is slightly overdone. This movie is the perfect example for giving movies a chance before throwing in the towel, as the first minutes encourage you not to finish it, but those who succumb would have missed a great film.

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