The DVD box for this movie sports a quote from Thoreau, which is a great move if you think your movie can live up to his ideals. “Archer House” doesn’t, but it does deserve some credit for ending in an untraditional (though thoroughly weak) way.
The film sets itself up as a story about keeping true to one’s self in a sea of conformity. Sam Archer (played by Riley Rose Critchlow, who looks so much like another actress that I had to check the credits — twice) is a freshman Journalism major who decides to cover the world of sororities for her first cover story in the college paper. She’s kind of a misfit, but she’s also a “legacy,” which means she gets to experience Rush Week in all its glory. As to be expected, Rush Week is awful, and what comes next for the people who actually make it into the sorority is even more humiliating. Sam is horrified by what goes on, as any sane, thinking person would be. She trudges on, however, and sets out to write her story, but what ends up happening is one of the most depressing, anti-intellectual conclusions I’ve seen in a movie in a long time. It turns a previously well-acted and interesting story about conformity in the face of adversity into praise for group think. It doesn’t ring true for a second, either, and if the last scene was supposed to be funny and ironic it only came across as creepy and sad. Since this is a short film, we only get to know a little bit about Sam, but what we do know makes the end of the film baffling.
Chalk this film up as a disappointment not only to the concept of individualism, but to the ideals of Thoreau, as well.