We've seen the "botched heist" scenario so many times now that we can anticipate nearly every twist and turn before it arrives. And no question about it, Will Canon's Brotherhood is twist-happy, but it pays a good amount of attention to the characters, creating a hothouse atmosphere where we're pulling for the good guys to escape unharmed.
Of course, calling anyone in the movie "good" may stretch the definition of the term. Even Mike (Arlen Escarpeta, from the Friday the 13th remake), the most sympathetic, does questionable things. He's a convenience store clerk who gets caught up in a crazy fraternity initiation prank, ending up as the lone African-American character in a sea of young white men. Adding racial tension to the mix turns up the heat.
The fraternity is led by Frank (Jon Foster), a tall, good-looking guy who carries himself with boorish self-confidence. He towers over the other members of the fraternity, more through his arrogant demeanor than extreme physical prowess; his word is Law. When one of the fraternity pledges (Lou Taylor Pucci) accidentally gets shot during the "prank gone wrong," Frank is more worried about the frat's reputation (and his own skin) than the pledge's well-being, and tries to solve things without involving the authorities, which leads to a series of escalating calamities. Adam (Trevor Morgan), another pledge, tries to stand up to Frank and get his fellow pledge to hospital, but finds his own sense of morality under attack.
Tossing angry sorority sisters and an ineffectual campus cop into the mix, along with questionable medical decisions, keeps things boiling. Brotherhood races through its 76-minute running time, pausing just long enough to punctuate its dramatic moments, and the relentless pace is the key. By not slowing down appreciably for the narrative turns, the movie allows only a minimum of thought, which nicely puts the audience in the same frame of mind as the increasingly desperate frat boys.
While it doesn't remake the wheel, Brotherhood is a good jolt of fun and is especially fun to watch with a group; it's what we call "an audience movie."
Due out today, the Region 1 DVD from Phase 4 Films comes complete with a good-looking transfer and DD 5.1 (and DD 2.0) audio tracks in the original English and dubbed French.
Two audio commentaries are featured, one with the filmmakers (director / co-writer Will Canon, co-writer Doug Simon, and producer Chris Pollack) and the other with members of the cast and crew (Canon, Simon, actors Jesse Staccato and Meyer DeLeeuw, editor Josh Schaeffer, and composer Dan Marocco). The filmmakers' commentary covers casting (including many friends and family members), locations, the rigors of shooting on a tight budget and schedule, and the underlying themes and issues of the story. The cast and crew commentary reunites friends who met at NYU and worked on the original short film, and is similarly filled with useful information and memories recalled.
Also included is Roslyn, the 8-minute short film that served as inspiration for the feature, made by Canon at NYU in 2000; a photo montage, consisting of dozens of handsome black and white stills set to music from the original score by Dan Marocco; trailers, both the theatrical and the international version, which adds blood and profanity; a "making of" documentary, running 10 1/2 minutes, with on-location interviews (so we see Lou Taylor Pucci in bloody make-up), and behind the scenes footage; and "Sigma Zeta Chi Pledge Interviews," running about 4 minutes, which present snippets of interviews set before the events of the film.