[Ed. Note: This review contains some slight spoilers. Be warned.]
Slickly produced, Sorority Forever stars the sublimely morose Jessica Rose of lonelygirl15 fame. Shining like a bright white light in this slow-simmering mystery soap, Rose is a star in the making. Behind those bedroom eyes and that wan yet warm closed lip smile there is something going on that is perfectly suited to the what’s-behind-the-door frightshow this web-series promises to be.
TheWB.com graciously bestowed we reviewers with a sneak peek at the first ten eps of their new show and though it’s a rocky start, the second half of the ten begin to crack open a sorority noir with some promise. At episode eight I was sufficiently freaked out by the handheld ritualistic video Julie (Rose) watches on her computer. And when Madison, played by the crazy hot Mikaela Hoover (Sam Has 7 Friends; Cockpit), raids Phi Chi Kappa president Bridget’s closet, she finds a little more than Manolo Blahniks. Giving us a very small (too small?) taste of what’s to come.
But look, it’s not all fun and games, who knew two minutes could be so hard to pull off? The first ep is more of a montage slash trailer that when I was done watching I thought, Did I just watch the teaser? There is little to no character development, though we meet Julie and realize she has no interest in the Greek life. Progressively the shows give us a little more info, but it just doesn’t seem to find its footing until ep 3 (above), when Julie meets the geeky rock-god-in-the-making Joaquin, played by Joaquin Pastor. Their meet-cute is a refreshing moment of soapy delight as the deliciously coy Julie compliments the oddly confident and subtly prescient coolguy Joaquin. Truth be told there are layers to this scene that convey a deeper writing (Chris Hampel, Ryan Wise, Chris McCaleb of Big Fantastic) and directing (BF) talent than other scenes exhibit.
And from that moment on there are tidbits of this talent mingled with a little too much camp and a little yawn. The talent is highlighted by the burgeoning Julie-Joaquin romance, and minor pieces of the growing, seemingly horrific underbelly of Phi Chi Kappa: the scary red door, the vidcam wielding frat boys, that crazy video. Unfortunately with each of these we do get a few cheesy hazing scenes like carwashing while battered with Phi Chi trivia; the forced fashion faux pas: undies on the outside of your clothes; and some requisite arch eyebrows of the sorority higher-ups. All of which makes for a little story softness this potential horror series could definitely do without. Fortunately for the show, however, each ep gets incrementally better until episode 10, when we begin to see that maybe Joaquin has more of a backstory than the edgy geek-rocker we think he is and perhaps the sorority has a darker history than silent treatments and hokey hazing.
Auspices for the show include McG and Big Fantastic as producers, which isn’t too shabby and gives me some hope for the continued evolution of the writing and development of the series. Which, to my mind, would include a little more edge and a little less shyness with the horror and mystery of it all. So, my fine viewers out there, have a look at the show if only to see Jessica Rose gloom her way into your heart and keep watching because if they stick to it and heed my advice, they just might keep you entertained and scare the pants off of you at the same time.