Saumene Mehrdady’s short film, Pi Epsilon Beta, focuses on the hazing and initiation of four fraternity pledges. The pledges are commanded by a frat brother, who wouldn’t be out of place leading a military boot camp, as they try to prove their worth. The verbal abuse is constant, though the hazing can be considered tame when you think of other collegiate frat horror stories or rumors you may have heard over the years.
The seriousness in which the frat brothers, and their pledges, take to the initiation can seem absurd to an outside observer. The films offers an unflinching and straightforward look, however, showing us the sort of situation that is hardly unheard of at universities. It acts almost like a documentary, albeit one heightened by an ominous tone; you always think things will get worse than they do.
Then again, just because the image of pledges being hazed by fraternities is well-known and almost expected, it doesn’t mean that the process isn’t a horror unto itself. Maybe it’s not about something drastic having to occur, when the entire process can be considered traumatic. The film just shows you, and then lets you make sense of it.
Some folks might want more of a plot, but Pi Epsilon Beta does a great job of presenting a scenario and playing it out. It looks great, and has a moody score that gives the film a gravitas that might be lost otherwise. The actors are convincing, and, again, the film could almost be a documentary. Whether that seems unfortunate to you or not will vary by audience member; depends on the level of desensitization.
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