Title – Goat (2016)
Director – Andrew Neel (King Kelly)
Cast – Ben Schnetzer, Nick Jonas, Gus Halper, Danny Flaherty, James Franco
Plot – Still struggling after living through a horrific assault, new college student Brad (Schnetzer) finds himself enduring a new kind of terror in a fraternity hazing period that his brother Brett (Jonas) is a proud member of.
“Pledges gotta go through hell, otherwise, what’s the point?”
Review by Eddie on 08/03/2017
The tradition of college pledges and hazing has seemingly been around as long as the hills themselves and in a movie sense has been a part of almost every college film we’ve laid eyes upon, often portrayed as hilarious and laughter inducing events that are a rite of passage for college teens looking to establish themselves in a fraternity or “brotherhood/sisterhood” of lifelong friends and accomplices. That Andrew Neel’s Goat therefore feels like the horror version of these events is a refreshing thing indeed.
Adapted from Brad Land’s memoir (making the events here hit home in a deeper fashion) and backed by James Franco’s production company Rabbit Bandini (Franco cameoing as one time fraternity king turned father Mitch), from the first slow-motion set frame, Goat establishes the hellish nature of hazing and what transpires behind closed doors of fraternity behaviours in a chilling fashion that may make for particularly hard viewing for those not prepared to accept events depicted in this tale of Ben Schnetzer’s recently traumatized college newbie Brad’s experiences through these acceptance trials are quite possibly closer to reality than many would care to realize.
Backed by proficient performances from Schnetzer as well as Nick Jonas (well and truly shedding his good guy image), Neel’s film enters into an almost torturous hazing section that showcases the often freighting nature of what transpires once teenage boys and those yet to mature into thinking adults are banded together with nothing more than hormones, alcohol and a misguided sense of brotherly bonds to hold them together with not a single adult within sight.
It’s the true success of Goat (titled after the moniker given to those trying to survive the hazing process) in this horrific showcase of events but Neel’s film falls down in other areas with a sometimes aimless narrative structure that eventuates into a rather unsatisfactory final stretch while at times this low key production feels rather haphazard in nature, not unlike a bigger budgeted student film and a staple of many of Rabbit Bandini’s productions.
By no means entertaining viewing, this anti-Animal House offer’s a potentially eye-opening account of what modern day college life could well pertain to and while not everything in Goat works, Neel has crafted a memorable and unique vision of the culture that many American college’s would rather turn a blind eye to, than address head on.
3 naughty Jonas brothers out of 5