The Hazing begins with a whole lot of expositional nonsense about a book with the power to open a gateway between the living and the dead. In order to evade accusations of copyright infringement levied by Sam Raimi, the book is dubbed the “Savior of Souls” rather than the Necronomicon. Grizzled college professor Brad Dourif—featuring aggressive, gopher-sized muttonchops that deserve second-billing—succumbs to the power of this pernicious tome and murders 35-year-old college student Brooke Burke, ostensibly ending her celebrity appearance in The Hazing at the 6 minute, 20 second mark.
The action is interrupted by the opening credits sequence, but things kick right back into gear as a co-ed group of fraternity and sorority pledges, forced to stand at rigid Greek-style attention in their underwear, are instructed to embark on a complex scavenger hunt that will culminate in a sleepover at the infamously scary “Hack House.”
An inevitable montage of wacky scavenger hunt shenanigans soon ensues, in which the pledges steal various sundries from nearby locations, all set to the ingratiating strains of “The Zombie Dance” by The Insect Surfers, one of the most irritating songs ever committed to a horror-film montage (yes, even more irritating than the song played over the “tux-shopping” montage in Carrie).
Once the group arrives at “Hack House” for their scary night away from Greek row, the possessed book is discovered and the ghost of Brad Dourif (rendered in the kind of cheesy green special effects you would normally find in the Haunted House ride at Disneyland) peer-pressures one of the teens into reading aloud from book, and all hell breaks loose in an hour of Evil Dead 2-inspired mediocrity. The pledges are possessed by demons, a few folks are decapitated, and one unfortunate doctor gets a defibrillator to the nuts.
With some decent gore, gratuitous partial nudity, and an obvious knowledge of the genre working for it, how does The Hazing manage to go wrong? Unfortunately, it lacks a senses of self-awareness and ultimately has no idea how it’s coming across to its own audience. An unbearably awkward romance between possibly bisexual Marsha (Tiffany Shepis) and the mouth-breathing Tim (Parry Shen) is almost wince-inducing enough to warrant The Hazing as passable B-movie entertainment; unfortunately, the director isn’t smart enough to realize that he inadvertently captured some pretty funny stuff during his attempts to convey narrative melodrama. Every joke is thrown into your face like a mackerel, and any attempts at seriousness are excruciatingly painful to watch, due to their overwhelming sincerity.
Not nearly good enough to recommend, and not quite bad enough to show at your next kegger, The Hazing is a movie that is never scary, and only funny when it doesn’t mean to be.