Halloween Scene: Dying to Belong (1997)

2:56:16 pm

Okay, this one isn’t really much of a horror movie unless you count watching a TV movie horrific, which isn’t too far off. The craziest thing about this NBC made for TV movie (I thought it was a Lifetime movie) about a mean sorority covering up the death of one of its pledges and another pledge trying to get to the bottom of it, is that I actually watched it when it first came out back in 1997. I was 14. Also crazy? Em watched it too. So, at the same time, four years before we met, we were sitting at home with our parents watching the same goofy movie starring (get read for it) Hilary Swank, Sarah Chalke, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Jenn von Oy and star of Baywatch and Old School Gregory Alan Williams (he was the cop on the RV and the therapist respectively). I’m pretty blown away by the mix of future Oscar winners and sitcom stars with current-at-the-time 90s teen stars. I’d actually buy this on DVD if they could get the cast back together to do a commentary.

Em and I were flipping through channels a week or two ago just looking for something to watch and stumbled upon Dying to Belong on LMN (which apparently stands for Lifetime Movie Network, I really had no idea) and we watched the whole thing. Oh man. Weird.

So, Swank pledges a sorority that her mom was a member of back in the day. Chalke is a member of the sorority. Swank’s friend Jenna von Oy (Six from Blossom, if you didn’t already know) also wants to join, but she’s not liked as much. Or something. Mark-Paul plays Swank’s love interest who’s got no love for the Greek system. He and Swank both work for the school paper too. That’s important later.

As the plot develops, the sorority girls make the pledges do all kinds of awful stuff that you hear about sororities or fraternities. There’s a scene where they make the girls race up a hill, take a shot and then run back down. Another has the pledges scrubbing the floor with (presumably) their own toothbrushes. But my favorite is when they make pledges walk around on a table and the sorority sisters circle their physical flaws with permanent markers. Crazy.

Jenna ends up dying. Chalke says she killed herself, but Swank doesn’t buy it so she starts an investigation of sorts. Which brings down the wraith of the sorority sisters who have some pretty good connections as she gets fired from the newspaper and no one believes her in the school administration. Which turns it into the kinds of movies that I actually find to me the scariest, the ones where you’re telling the truth and no one (including her freaking MOM) believes you. So, in the end, it’s actually a pretty effective, though still of course ridiculous Lifetime-like movie. If you can find it, you should check it out (though I wouldn’t pay for it). Maybe it’s online or something. I’m still waiting for that special edition DVD with the commentary track.

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