It’s 2019, and criticizing toxic masculinity is the “it” thing. I mean, hell, men’s razor companies are even cashing in… I can log onto social media right now and find any number of posts that make me feel bad about my penis in legitimately introspective ways by eloquently criticizing how society defines manhood only through physical aggression and sexual conquest. I can sit back and watch grown men call each other “cucks” in the YouTube comment sections of literally any video about gender theory to learn pretty much everything I need to know about how shitty dudes create even shittier dudes. There’s even personal experience: I hate to admit it but, yes, I frumbled in college. If you’ve never heard of frumble, just Google it. On second thought, maybe don’t…

What I’m saying is, if you’re going to tackle toxic masculinity in your horror movie about psychotic frat boys, then you’re required to have a fresh take. I need to get something out of your movie that I can’t get pretty much everywhere else. Pledge isn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen. It’s actually worse.

Pledge is the umpteenth movie that believes nerdy young white dudes are some kind of oppressed minority, produced by douchebags who I’m sure often tout themselves as the “Wokest White Boyz in the Room.” I’ve never actually met any “Bernie Bros” in person, but during Pledge, I felt like I could smell the cheap body spray sticking to their balls. I hate to break it to you, Pledge, but we’re at least two massacres perpetrated by self-described “incels” past the point of tolerating your Nerds vs. the Jockiarchy bullshit.

Pledge follows a trio of sex-crazed dorks as they’re hazed into a mysterious fraternity that promises access to the highest levels of society. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by telling you that a horror movie about hazing quickly turns into torture porn. Fascinating, isn’t it? How a movie written by a dude clearly thinks hazing men is the worst thing about frats and not, you know, their storied history of sexual assaulting women…

I couldn’t help but notice in the opening credits that the screenwriter was also an actor in the film. When we’re introduced to his character, his very essence was so obnoxious that I immediately realized, “Oh, this must be the guy who wrote the thing.” Even if you don’t care about any of the social commentary, Pledge doesn’t even hold up as torture porn. There’s nary a creative murder throughout the flick, even if it seems to think these are some iconic horror movie kills.

On just a “movie” level, my God, is Pledge annoying. The “heroes” are all cry-acting and whimpering. The villains are all bug-eyed and screaming. The torture drags on for what’s supposed to be a brisk 77 minutes. Pledge, if your whole goal is to criticize toxic masculinity and you make a movie that just sort of perpetuates it, you’re the ultimate failure. I’ll end this by saying if I ever sit down and make a list of movies I hate the most, Pledge will absolutely be on it.

Grade = F-

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