Film Review: The Initiation (1984)

The Initiation“It really should have been a decent addition to the genre.”

When sitting down to watch a slasher film from any decade, you shouldn’t expect to have your mind blown. What you should expect is blood, boobs, and bad acting. You see, while slasher films may not be wholly original thematically (often copy-and-pasting John Carpenter’s tried and tested formula from Halloween), there are instances when a particular film may just create a spooky ambience through the use of moody music and intriguing settings, and will sometimes actually be quite fun to watch.

If you’re a slasher purist and you just want to kick back and have fun with a flick, then The Initiation will definitely fail to fulfil your blood and boobs quota and also rob an hour and a half of your time. Given the seemingly large budget and great settings (a mental hospital, college campus, and a shopping mall), it really should have been a decent addition to the genre.

Okay, here’s the plot: A bunch of sorority girls break into a mall at night to do some pledges and get killed one by one. Got it? Right, let’s move on.

The violence is dull and uninventive (at one point the killer uses a three-pronged garden fork, yes, garden fork) and there is a psychological subplot that is both boring and, in the final twist during the climax, unrewarding. While The Initiation should probably be applauded for attempting to add a degree of intelligence to what is otherwise a brainless genre (and I say that with the upmost respect for slasher films), it doesn’t have the spark that made films like Halloween, Maniac, and Friday the 13th such gratifying viewing experiences. The Initiation is, quite simply, a very boring film. Forget the lacklustre acting and the awful, irritating characters. Forget the ridiculous regression therapy scenes. Forget the fact that there is nothing remotely tense, or even slightly eerie throughout. This could all be forgiven if the director had been able to make use of the rather impressive-looking mall, and build a lasting, enjoyable vibe.

If you want a horror set in a mall that isn’t Dawn of the Dead, try Chopping Mall (which, although silly, I enjoy in a perverse sort of way). If you want girls getting stalked and murdered for no reason, go for Slumber Party Massacre. And if you want something that uses a retail setting with slightly better effect, watch Intruder. But in the event that you want to be bored to tears and left pissed-off for having wasted an hour and a half, then buy or rent The Initiation.


Director: Larry Stewart
Starring: Vera Miles, Clu Gulager, Daphne Zuniga
Running time: 97 minutes
Certificate: 18
Release date: 5 August 2013

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