Beginning like many college films before it, Pledge introduces us to our three protagonists and immediately makes it clear what kind of film we’re watching. We have David, the dorky and talkative one played by Zack Weiner. The overweight, goofy but lovable sidekick, Justin played by Zachery Boyd. As well as the ‘maybe a nerd, maybe just friendless but out of place’ Ethan played by Philip Andre Botello.
If you’re getting serious déjà vu just reading that, trust us, you’re not alone. Our introduction to the walking stereotypes comes as they desperately try to fit in at college. To do this they want to join a fraternity and go from party to party hoping to be liked. Of course, that doesn’t happen and they’re rejected/laughed at by all the popular and cool kids.
There’s nothing particularly wrong with this introduction or our three main characters who are fairly likeable. It’s just that they’re trying so hard, not just from a character standpoint, to be the stereotypes they’re expected to portray and it’s just too ‘seen it all before’. This means it’s far tougher to truly become invested in them and their plight.
So after rejection after rejection, the boys are then approached by a woman who invites them to a private party. An exclusive event that she and her female friends will also be attending. Of course, the power of boners ensures nothing at all seems odd about this and our trio head off to a huge country house off campus.
Once there, the boys are welcomed like old friends by a group of people who are clearly part of the upper class of society. Again, that’s mightily suspicious but the affable host, Max (Aaron Dalla Villa) puts them at ease. This isn’t a frat but rather an exclusive club where only the elite can join. So exclusive is this club that there are only 10 members on campus at one time.
If they want a chance to join they’re going to have to go through an initiation taking place the next day. After a heavy night of drinking and partying, the trio plus two more random boys arrive back for their initiation. Things are about to get dark, much darker.
Predictable and sign-posted heavily,. Pledge isn’t looking to surprise you. Instead it would rather shock you with some nasty violence and torture. Most of this meted out by the three antagonists.
We have the aforementioned David who is the best thing in the film, energetic and psychotic, walking the line of being entertaining without being cheesy. Then we have Ricky (Cameron Cowperthwaite) and Bret (Jesse Pimentel) who are also fun to watch but overdo it at times resulting in some very silly faces and reactions.
They have zero character development, we know literally nothing about them and it stays that way which is a shame. Between their lack of characters and the main three protagonists’ basic stereotypes, it does mean there isn’t much to get invested in at all.
Now we have to talk about the ‘twist’. No spoilers here but what on earth was the point of it? It literally made no sense, is obvious if you pay attention to earlier scenes of torture and doesn’t pay off at all.
All these negatives are a real shame because the idea is sound. It’s filmed really well and very well acted. Credit to everyone, they put the effort in to making sure you remember their faces. It’s just unlikely you’ll remember them for Pledge.