In the early 1980s, there was many a film that fell into the slasher genre. The killing of teenagers was big business and studios pumped them out like nobody’s business. To that effect, some were good and some were bad and when it comes to The Initiation, it would find itself one of the former. Sporting an actual budget with some obvious production values, it would be two steps in the right direction and with a talented cast and a script and story by writer Charles Pratt, Jr., director Larry Stewart would have an easy time of tying it all together into a picture that would turn out to be one of the better slashers put to celluloid during the time period.
Daphne Zuniga stars as Kelly, a girl who has had a crippling nightmare ever since she was but a small child. Now years later, while trying to join a sorority, that nightmare still persists and she soon finds that every dream has some truth to it and that truth comes back to haunt her and the rest of her college friends.
Once the killing starts and it does so almost immediately, it never stops and though most of the murders seem pretty cheesy, it keeps the suspense running high throughout the film. None of the murders are particularly inventive and that is a bit of a shame, but the cast and the story more than make up for it as it tends to be a fairly engrossing movie. There is the prerequisite amount of nudity, just enough to keep things interesting, not to mention your standard bad girl who likes to make things hard for our heroine and the goody-two-shoes friend who balances things out. Many of the same tropes you see in other slasher films are present here and while avid watchers of these films might find them repetitive, they never actually turn out to be. There is a small comfort in watching the familiar, even if that is the slaughtering of young women by a mysterious killer and yet, there is a bit of a surprise that makes the journey worth it all.
That being said, it is true that there is nothing better than being surprised by the outcome of a movie, especially if you were not expecting it. That is to say, sometimes you can see where a film is heading from a mile off and as such when you know what is coming, it tends to take just a little bit of the magic away. The Initiation is a picture that shows you right from the start where it is heading, yet frames it so you are unable to pick up on it and when that big reveal comes, you are not only surprised, but a little shocked as well. The Initiation is an enjoyable journey, perhaps not as bloody or as brilliant as others, but still worth the time.
3.5 out of 5