Pledge is a twisted horror thriller from IFC Midnight. This movie works well on so many levels and is definitely worth your time. But be warned, it’s one very sick and pretty damn crazy ride.

Pledge is a horror thriller about a very intense and twisted fraternity hazing experience.

I was very pleasantly surprised by Pledge and would recommend it to most people. No matter how you feel about fraternities, it does tap into the darker side of pledging and – in particular – the hazing rituals. Sure, this is a movie in the horror thriller genres, but we all know that people have in fact died during hazing in real life.

Pledge isn’t actually an “art imitating life” story, but it does come pretty close. While also being just very good entertainment!

Friendship versus popularity

The movie starts out by introducing three friends that don’t fit in particularly well. Or rather, two of them seem happy enough with just enjoying the company while the third wants something more. He’s the biggest nerd of the three and lacks a lot of social skills. However, he desperately wants to be part of the “in” crowd.

I recognize that being “popular” has a lot of appeal to many. And that is the focus of the story in Pledge. It’s also the goal of the third guy, David (Zack Weiner), and the reason why he drags Justin and Ethan around to various fraternities.

Personally, I’ve always valued the company of real friends over superficial stuff. Most horror fans probably feel this way. That’s why I related most to the two laid back nerds, Justin (Zachery Byrd) and Ethan (Philip Andre Botello).

One thing did irk me; Especially Ethan didn’t come across as particularly nerdy. Philip Andre Botello is to cool and fit to come across as a nerd, who doesn’t know how to act around girls.

It’s like seeing Superman disguised as Clark Kent. And we all know how hard it is to believe that people can’t see the person behind the glasses. Anyway, it threw me off, so I had to mention it here.

Pledge (2018) Horror Thriller Review

Three friends and the exclusive fraternity

The hunt to join a fraternity doesn’t go very well for our three friends. Nobody’s interested in the three nerdy kids. Until somebody suddenly is. And the fraternity interested in our merry band of friends is a very exclusive one.

When the three friends first arrive at the “frat house”, it’s a crazy party with drinks flowing and girls throwing themselves at them. It’s everything they wanted. And, of course, they’re very eager to pledge to this fraternity the very next day.

Big mistake. Huge! As the trailer reveals, the 48-hour hazing ritual involved when pledging is all kinds of crazy. This is when the “real” story in Pledge begins to take form.

For the record, two additional guys are wanting to pledge. Once again, these “nerds” don’t look or act very nerdy. In fact, they very much seem like people trying to come across as nerdy. Why not just hire actors that are actual nerds instead of these models-turned-actors. 

Pledge stars its screenwriter

The nerdiest of the guys in this movie is actually the screenwriter, Zach Weiner. And I have to give it to him; Not only is he one of the only believable outsiders (along with Zachery Byrd), he has written a solid script.

For the record, Zachery Byrd is simply overweight his character is very aware that he’s judged by this. That’s why he’d rather just hang out with his true friends instead of trying to join fraternities that call him names. He’s the most intriguing character for me and Zachery Byrd is the main reason for this.

I didn’t expect to like this movie nearly as much as I did. It’s like most movies where things go so very wrong. First things seem weird, then it gets a little wilder and before you know it, you’re caught in a literal nightmare.

Pledge is out in limited theatrical release and On Demand from January 11, 2019.


Director: Daniel Robbins
Writer: Zack Weiner
Cast: Phillip Andre Botello, Zachery Byrd, Zachary Weiner, Joe Gallagher, Jean-Louis Droulers, Erica Boozer, Aaron Dalla Villa, Cameron Cowperthwaite, Jesse Pimentel


Three friends get the chance to live the college dream when they’re invited to join an elite fraternity—but first they’ll have to survive the hazing from hell. Freshman social misfits Ethan (Phillip Andre Botello), David (Zack Weiner), and Justin (Zachery Byrd) are desperate to improve their terminally uncool reputations by pledging one of their university’s prestigious Greek houses. When every frat on campus turns them down, they are unexpectedly recruited by a shadowy social club offering them access to an exclusive world of raging parties, eligible coeds, and VIP social status. The catch? A sadistic initiation ritual that goes from depraved to deadly over the course of 48 booze- and blood-soaked hours. Spiked with twisted humor and gruesome shocks, Pledge asks: how far would you go to be popular?

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
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