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31 Days of Halloween

‘Init!ation’ review: Topical horror movie pays loving homage to 90s

Scream if you know what you did last summer.

Welcome to another installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be sharing various pieces of underappreciated scary books, comics, movies, and television to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.


The 1990s were the decade of college horror movies. There definitely were some movies set around universities in previous years, but none were as synonymous. The entries from the 90s are some of the most memorable of all time. Init!ation (the movie was set to make its premiere at SXSW as Dembanger) is a throwback to those days. The movie is about a rash of mysterious killings at a university. All them seemed to tied to social media and an exclamation point.

The movie immediately gives audiences an idea of what they are going to get. As frat boys and sorority sisters run around, Init!ation gives the impression it is from another era. Cell phones and the use of social media say otherwise. It is a neat mix that shows a number of things. For starters, it is a great example of the more things change, the more they stay the same. It is college kids being as funny, silly, and annoying as they always have been.

Init!ation also highlights how much attitudes have changed. The horny frat boys that were seen as goofy in previous decades are downright sinister here. The sexually aggressive rhymes they use are frightening. The sorority sisters now discuss the real options they have. They are not just helpless victims. Unfortunately, Init!ation does not allow its heroines to go beyond mere final girls.

'Init!ation' review: Topical horror movie pays loving homage to 90s

Social media is an integral part of the film. It is becoming more common to see notifications and text messages pop up in movies. Unsurprisingly, it is seen a lot here. The use of technology is more seamless than is usually seen. Instead of just having balloon pop ups (which is a nice touch more often than not), the notifications are almost a part of the background. It is a great idea that shows just how deeply embedded in society social media and texting has become.

The plot of Init!ation is a mix of 90’s aesthetic with modern themes. Along with the look and feel, the characters – especially the killer – will give a feeling of nostalgia. There are glimpses of the characters being more aware of their surroundings and options. The flip side is the characters seem above the odd decision making horror movies are known for. When they do make strange decisions – like attending a party where there was previously an unresolved sexual assault – it stands out in a bad way.

The 1990s were a fun era for horror movies. While not as good as the previous decade, there was a sense of fun that makes those films recognizable. Though they may be the target audience, its shockingly violent kills make it more than just another teen horror. Much like the movies it pays homage to, Init!ation is a flawed but fun horror flick.

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