Lou Taylor Pucci, left, and Jesse Steccato costar in Brotherhood. (Phase 4 Films, Phase 4 Films )
A fraternity loyalty ritual goes blazingly wrong in the jacked-up indie thriller "Brotherhood." The film invests a lot of emotional energy in raising moral stakes for the kind of boorish male pranksters it's hard to feel sympathy for when one reads about them in newspaper accounts of fatal hazings and sexual assaults.
In first-time feature director Will Canon's all-nighter scenario, co-written with Doug Simon, a frat house's carefully rigged scheme to make a pledge think he's robbing a convenience store leads to bullets flying, a wounded freshman, a kidnapped clerk and circumstances that get progressively worse, complete with the kind of shaky handheld camerawork and endless shouting matches that are the usual indie-movie distress signifiers.
We're meant to fall behind nervous pledge Adam (Trevor Morgan) in his lone quest to do the right thing over the efforts of scheming jerk Frank (Jon Foster), but an early party scene depicting the sexual humiliation of an overweight girl, along with some casually tossed off racial epithets, raises the question: Why give a flip about anybody here making it out with their good white hetero male names intact?
"Brotherhood" isn't badly acted or without some skillfully tense moments, but it doesn't have much in the way of entertainment value either.
"Brotherhood." MPAA rating: R for pervasive language, some violence and sexual content. Running time: 1 hour, 19 minutes. At Laemmle's Sunset 5, West Hollywood.