Starring Brett Novek, Arthur Napiontek, Preston Davis, Maria Aceves, Nathan Parsons, Oskar Rodriguez, Lindsey Landers
Directed by David DeCoteau
Expectations: Hopeful. I like most of this series.
On the general scale:
On the B-movie scale:
After the high quality of The Brotherhood IV, I came into The Brotherhood V: Alumni with hope for another great Brotherhood film. There were four years between entries… maybe that time was spent looking for a story worthy of the renowned Brotherhood name! My hopes quickly fell when I saw the locker-lined hallway of a high school, though. In this moment, director David DeCoteau certainly inspired horror within me, but not the horror intended! 🙂 The Brotherhood V: Alumni is more like The Brotherhood III, although thankfully it’s more entertaining than that bottom-of-the-barrel film. That isn’t apparent in the film’s intro, though, where a nerdy teenager on prom night is stalked through the impossibly blue, locker-lined halls by perhaps the least urgent stalking killer in film history. The nerd is tracked into the girls’ locker room, where he undresses, showers, and is ultimately murdered. The sound of a heartbeat plays the entire time, like a meditation mantra pulling you down into a state of sweet oblivion. This all plays about as slowly as is humanly possible, taking up the first 15 minutes of the movie.
It is here that we meet the brotherhood of this film, a completely down-to-earth group without a shred of the supernatural to be found. They bond over their shared promise to never speak of what happened on prom night in the girls’ locker room, not from any altruistic ideal, but because their prank on the nerd kid went wrong and someone stole the video tape that recorded it for posterity. One year later, the friends all receive a blue envelope containing an invitation to a school reunion, or to a one-year prom reunion or something. I don’t remember exactly, and it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that they have been called back to the school, and whoever called them there is terrorizing them with the threat of releasing the tape.
If this premise sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same set-up used in the classic cult horror films The Redeemer: Son of Satan and Slaughter High (with both films likely drawing inspiration from Agatha Christie’s famous novel And Then There Were None). In a rather fortuitous happening, I recently watched both of these films, so to see the premise arise again offered me a chance to consider the merits of each film. I didn’t particularly care for any of the three films, but each have their strengths. I think I’d pick The Brotherhood over the others if I were going to re-watch only one, which surprises even me. The idea of this story structure in a film with less going on and hardly any blood or FX work, seems like it would spell disaster, but the love I harbor for the distinct style of David DeCoteau apparently does wonders. I’m sure others would choose differently, but The Brotherhood is definitely the one that aligns with my sensibilities the most.
I see all three as ineffective horror movies, but The Brotherhood V: Alumni delivered enough fun along the way that I was ultimately satisfied. Both The Redeemer and Slaughter High take themselves too serious without the filmmaking quality to back it up, so the blue-tinted, softcore style of DeCoteau filled in the gaps for me. I always find DeCoteau’s sexual scenes to be well-shot affairs that also make me laugh quite a bit, and the ones here continue the tradition. I especially enjoyed the double shots of everyone removing their shirts, usually first in a wide shot, and then again in a waist-up medium shot. You really get a chance to study each person’s shirt removal technique, and enjoy or critique as you see fit. There is also more than enough time to study the lost art of kissing while standing up. The Brotherhood V: Alumni is also the first Brotherhood film to feature an actual gay love scene. Since the series is often referred to as homoerotic, I’m surprised it took this long to come up. The oddest, and therefore most entertaining love scene choice, though, was to layer the heartbeat sound effect over the threesome, giving the scene an ominous tone that never failed to amuse me.
Despite the horrifically slow opening, the main section of The Brotherhood V: Alumni is enjoyable and relatively well-paced. The climax returns to the slowness, but by this point the film had built up enough credit to keep me hooked, plus the climax is where the film’s story really blossoms (as much as it can). The Brotherhood V: Alumni is also a nicely shot film, even within the confines of its relatively boring story, set in a boring location (which is possibly the same school that The Brotherhood III was shot in). The Brotherhood III gave me so much time with the school’s lockers that I could recognize them anywhere. 😀 Anyway, The Brotherhood V: Alumni is not great, but I think DeCoteau fans will find things to enjoy about it, as I did.
Next time I get around to a Full Moon movie, I’ll be checking in with another David DeCoteau film: 2000’s Voodoo Academy! See ya then!