Perils of Song Selection: The Sorority Row Trailer

The trailer for Sorority Row, the slasher that features a cadre of dead-inside sorority girls getting murdered for a prank gone awry, has been around for a little while, but I finally caught it before a screening of District 9. (The trailer selection was oddly slasher-heavy, between Sorority Row and Halloween 2 and The Final Destination and a couple of other unmemorable titles, for a film that isn't slasher-like at all.) Besides being totally '90s-tastic in that I Know What You Did Last Summer way, it didn't stand out as anything different from, say, the remakes of Prom Night, Black Christmas, or My Bloody Valentine. In fact, if it weren't for its choice of music, the trailer would have probably been forgotten as quickly as I had seen it.

During the set-up act of the trailer, the sorority girls cruise down a headlight-lit highway toward an abandoned construction site or something equally silly to pretend to dispose of a body. Get it? They're about to do a bad, bad thing. Except they really aren't, and they certainly aren't acting bad in the Chris Isaak sense. (The moment comes 40 seconds into the trailer, in case you don't want to watch the whole thing.)

The song was released in 1995, but became synonymous with Eyes Wide Shut after Stanley Kubrick cut the trailer for the film set to the song. It later appeared in the film as a set-up for -- and externalization of -- the revelation that sets the plot in motion, one that involves sex, deceit, infidelity, marriage, condescension, innuendo, and betrayal.

The song opens with, "You ever love someone so much you thought your little heart was gonna break in two?," and closes (more or less) with, "It hurts so bad when you finally know just how low, low, low, low, low, she'll go." In those two lines alone, a good deal is conveyed about the marriage of Bill and Alice Harford (Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman) and the grander ideas Eyes Wide Shut deals with. But when you watch the Sorority Row trailer, all you're left with is, boy, they're going to do something bad maybe because a song about someone doing something bad is playing.

Granted, my feelings toward this are based entirely on my love for Eyes Wide Shut and the revulsion at hearing such a crucial component of that film being used to promote one far less worthwhile. Yet there is another, more practical offense: the song just doesn't work in the context of the Sorority Row trailer. The song isn't about murder being a bad, bad thing, it's about the crimes of passion (and probably omission) that a woman commits on a man, or vice versa. In that way, it's absolutely compatible with Kubrick's film. In the context of Sorority Row, it fits only if you take the song at face value. Putting it into the film makes about as much sense as dancing to "Every Breath You Take" at your wedding because it sounds romantic.

Ultimately, the song choice says something about the goals of the films, too. Sorority Row sets out to be surface level, a diversion at the end of the summer. Eyes Wide Shut, on the other hand, had something more probing on its mind.