The 3 types of fans who will love IFC’s brutal fraternity horror Pledge


IFC’s Pledge, a perverse horror film about fraternity hazing gone wrong, will appease certain types of horror fans. Find out if you’re one of them.

One of the producers of Pledge was kind enough to send me a copy of the film so I could review it and check out the special features on the Blu-Ray of the movie. Going into the film, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew it would be a horror film about fraternity hazing gone terribly wrong and that premise alone was enough to draw my interest. I’ve always been a fan of any kind of young adult horror and I’d seen Pledge generating decent buzz online.

I can safely say, this movie was radically more intense than I was anticipating. It felt like a brutal punch in the gut – and I mean that in a good way, as in, wow this was a sleek, gut-wrenching, and sickening little torture film. I wasn’t anticipating the visceral anticipation and stress it would create in the pit of my belly.

That said, I think this is a film that will be best be enjoyed by certain types of horror fans, find out if you’re this movie’s perfect audience!

Fans of Dark Comedy

Pledge is not for the faint of heart, straight up. You won’t look at rats the same way again after seeing this film (and I say that as someone who used to own pet rats). However, I was surprised at the pithy, almost satirical edge the film takes on – and how can it not? The idea of toxic masculinity being taken to the absolute extreme and parried between the intoxicating draw of being desired by a clandestine, elite group just begs to be riffed.

It almost serves as a eulogy to the modern-day damage of the university Greek system. While Pledge doesn’t quite reach the cutting sophistication it needs to elevate itself to the grand heights of excellent satire, it still weaves together some punched up dialogue where it needs to and I found myself laughing between winces, sometimes when I wasn’t sure I was supposed to – and somehow that added to the film’s overall allure.

If you liked the merciless irony of Aronofsky’s Mother! or even the good old-fashioned, Evil Dead, you might find something worthwhile here.

Pledge – Photo Courtesy of BoulderLight Pictures

Fans of Torture-Horror

Pledge is one of the most cruel, mean, and depraved movies I’ve seen in a while. I had to pause a few times, in one very specific soup scene, to keep myself from gagging. If you like SawHostel, Wrong Turn, or any other films from the genre of wicked people doing seriously wicked things, then this is a film for you.

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What I think makes Pledge so scary in its own right, is the fact it doesn’t go the extra mile some of the other exploitation films from the torture porn genre tend to. Pledge knows when to reign it, when to show restraint, and therefore it takes the audience to the precipice and lets their imagination do the rest.

It’s an excellent tactic that gave me a more visceral reaction than had I seen the aftermath of all the guts and glory. (Though trust me, if you’re looking for legitimately savage torture scenes, there are aplenty).

Fans of Films That Are Short and Vicious

With a run time under 80 minutes, Pledge wastes zero time getting right into the good stuff. Sure, we have some obligatory character build-up where we meet the three same characters – who, of the three, Ethan shines as the one you’re most likely to root for.

But otherwise, Pledge pulls no punches because there’s no time to and it makes a better movie because of it. There isn’t a lot of needless exposition, and perhaps there are less answers to your questions than you’ll like, but I’d say the film makes up for it in its vicious onslaught of the story. You barely get time to breathe from chaotic scene to the next. The break-neck pacing is in service to the plot and not a moment is wasted.

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Bonus: Blu-Ray Review

Did you like Pledge enough to buy it? Well you can through Amazon or Shout Factory! but before you buy, if you’re like me, you may be curious to know what special features you’ll be getting out of the deal.

Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed in Pledge’s bonus offerings, I was hoping there might be some behind-the-scenes featurettes, but it makes up for it marginally by including an entertaining commentary track.

Special Features

  • Commentary With Director Daniel Robbins, Producer Mark Rapaport, Co-Producer Michael Gelfand, and Actors Zachery Byrd, Zack Weiner, And Aaron Dalla Villa: You’ll definitely want to give this a listen to if you enjoy the film. It’s pretty informative about how they did several different scenes while also being downright hilarious and enjoyable. It’s great to listen to these actors talk to each other despite the fact they’re trying to kill each other in the movie. It’s clear they had a good time on set.
  • Gag Reel: More evidence of the fun had behind the scenes! It’s a nice gag reel, about five minutes in length, with plenty of goofing off and all the bromances you could want.
  • Deleted Scenes: Probably one of the weaker features with a short three-minute run time. But none of the scenes deleted added much to the overall film so you can see why they’re left on the cutting room floor. Worth the watch for some extra character building though!

Pledge is available now to rent, or own on digital or on DVD/Blu-Ray.

Are you interested in checking out Pledge? Let us know in the comments.