out of Five
Running time: 76
Watchable events-spiralling-out-of-control thriller enlivened by strong performances, an above-average script and pacey direction.
What's it all about?
Directed by Will Canon, Brotherhood opens with Adam (Trevor Morgan) and Kevin (Lou Taylor Pucci) taking part in a fraternity initiation ritual instigated by frat house leader Frank (Jon Foster), in which they both believe they're meant to rob a late-night convenience store. However, when Kevin is accidentally shot by the panicked store clerk (Arlen Escarpeta), events quickly get out of control as the boys return to the frat house and try to get him help without attracting the attention of the police.
Morgan makes an appealing lead as Adam, who, along with Pucci's Kevin (who spends almost the entire movie bleeding, like Tim Roth in Reservoir Dogs), is pretty much the only sympathetic character in the film. What's interesting is that the film steers clear of the expected cliches, in that there's no alpha dog “evil” character – Frank voices the main objection to taking Kevin straight to hospital, but he's as freaked out as everyone else and hoping to find a solution that won't involve the authorities, rather than not caring about whether Kevin dies and only being interested in saving his own skin.
Canon maintains an impressive sense of pace throughout, taking an infectious glee in making things worse for these not particularly likeable characters (i.e. frat boy idiots) at every turn. The script is above average for this sort of thing too – the dialogue is decent and there's a constant stream of unpredictable twists and turns, culminating in a nicely staged finale.
The worst thing about the film is the rampant misogyny (another initiation prank involves a Rodeo with a specially chosen overweight girl, played by Katherine VanderLinden), though that does at least make you all the more eager for the characters to get their come-uppance, even if that character is never allowed her revenge. Similarly, there's a racial tension based subplot involving Escarpeta's character that doesn't quite work and occasionally threatens to overbalance the film.
Brotherhood is an entirely watchable teen thriller thanks to strong performances, an above average script and impressive direction. As forgettable Friday night entertainment goes, you could do a lot worse.