Pledge (2019) starring Zachery Byrd, Phillip Andre Botello and Zack Weiner. Directed by Daniel Robbins.
Pledge opens with a fat kid running through a forest while bleeding from his abdomen, only to be dispatched by a kid with a baseball bat.
Cut to four years later and we get a group of guys who could have walked straight out of 1984’s classic Revenge Of The Nerds, fresh on campus and desperately trying to join a fraternity. Problem is, they’re so goddamn nerdy they get shunned by everyone. The harder they try to be cool, the harder they crash and burn.
Well all that changes when a hottie invites the group to a party later that evening. I mean this girl is waaaaay out of their league, but as David, the leader of the nerds tells them, ‘If we give up and go home, that’s just us, drinking and playing Xbox and doing nothing for the next four years.’
‘That doesn’t sound bad. That sounds way better than everyone making fun of me every time I walk through their door,’ replies one of his cronies.
Well fortunately for us, David convinces the group to head over to the party. Unfortunately for them, the party isn’t on campus, it’s in a big ass house way out in the country, surrounded by fields and a forest that look suspiciously similar to the opening of the movie…
Once inside, the nerds are welcomed by Ricki and Max, two jock type seniors who seem to be running the show. They also meet a couple of other nerds who have been invited and who also stick out like a couple of sore thumbs and we soon realize the nerds are vastly outnumbered by the ‘cool’ kids. ‘You look like my little brother,’ one of the hotties tells David.
After a crazy night of drinking and partying and the nerds basically living the dream, the nerds get invited back the next evening.
Well of course they go back, with their nerdy heads full of how awesome it’s going to be and things get real nasty real fucking quick as the nerds are put through a series of tests to see if they are ‘club material’. You see, apparently the jocks are part of some secret, elite club that is home to the people who are ‘the leaders in their respective fields’.
‘Over the next forty eight hours you will be tested physically, mentally and emotionally,’ says Ricki. We’re only thirty minutes in and the movie has shifted a complete 180 from light-hearted college comedy into torture darkness.
To reveal what these poor bastards have to go through would spoil the movie, but suffice to say everyone has a breaking point and the nerds eventually realize they’re not getting out of there alive and decide to fight back. Nerds and jocks are dispatched in the ensuing cat and mouse chase through the house, which culminates in a show down in the basement, where a shadowy Illuminati group like the one at the end of Texas Chainsaw: The Next Generation makes itself known.
I really liked this movie, I’m a big fan of movies that don’t try to be clever or re-invent the wheel, they just give horror fans what they want. The acting is solid, from Zack Weiner’s portrayal of nerdy David to Aaron Dalla Villa’s Patrick Bateman style psycho lunatic rich kid who becomes more and more unhinged the further the movie spiral’s downward into hell. The switch of tone is very jarring and effective and the people you think will make it out don’t do so, no one is safe in this movie, not even the bad guys.
With a running time of just seventy minutes, things move along at a swift pace and before you know it, it’s over. They could easily make this into a franchise, I mean it doesn’t need a sequel, but then neither did The Purge but we like to watch them because fuck it, they’re fun. And you know what? So was this. Recommended.
Steve Barnard lurks in the Stygian swamps of South America. He divides his time between scouring ancient jungles for the lost City of the Monkey Children and watching horror movies. Literally any horror movie he can get his hands on. Especially Japanese ones.