INITIATION (2020) Reviews and Blu-ray + Digital and DVD release news

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Initiation will be released in the USA on Blu-ray + Digital and DVD by Lionsgate on July 20th 2021. Special features:

Hidden Secrets: Surviving Initiation featurette
The Final Twist: Postproduction featurette

Meanwhile, here’s our previous coverage of the movie:

‘Murder is trending’
Initiation is a 2020 American slasher horror film about a masked killer targeting students across a university campus. Also known as Init!ation

Directed by John Berardo from a screenplay co-written with Brian Frager and Lindsay LaVanchy, the movie stars Yancy Butler (Boogey-Man; Lake Placid vs. Anaconda; Rage of the Yeti), Lochlyn Munro (The Predator), Jon Huertas, Bart Johnson and Froy Gutierrez (Teen Wolf).

The soundtrack score was composed by Alexander Arntzen (Follow Her; Behemoth; Beyond the Woods).

Whiton University unravels on the night a star-athlete is murdered in the wake of a buried assault allegation, kicking off a spree of social media-linked slayings.

As a masked killer targets students across campus, a trio of sorority sisters races to uncover the truth behind the school’s hidden secrets — and the horrifying meaning of an exclamation point – before they become the next victims…

“Along with the look and feel, the characters – especially the killer – will give a feeling of nostalgia. There are glimpses of the characters being more aware of their surroundings and options. The flip side is the characters seem above the odd decision making horror movies are known for.” AIPT

Initiation is a well made, interesting film, a good slasher that gets Berardo’s career off to a promising start and leaves me looking forward to seeing what LaVanchy will do in the future. As mentioned, the only problem I had with any of it is that the killing of certain characters kind of got in the way of us learning exactly what happened in that alleged assault situation…” Arrow in the Head

“Is Initiation going to change horror as we know it? No, but it’s a solid, fun addition to the thriller/horror genre. The storyline may be lacking in parts, but it more than makes up for it by its colorful cinematography and unique(ish) plotline.” CRP Writes

“Despite providing two very different approaches to ending crime on campus, it is still not the most original film that you will see in 2021. But for what it is, it’s done well, looks sleek, and delivers an important point, all while remaining engaging throughout its 97-minutes.” Cryptic Rock

“Some streamlining to the story, let’s say cutting as much as 15-20 minutes, would boost a sometimes-saggy energy level when too many pages of padding are taken out of the Law and Order: SVU playbook. Even with those jagged hangnails, Initiation still gets a good deal of the way there as a prettily polished indie with several surprises up its sleeve.” Culture Crypt

” …Initiation works as a horror film overall because it sets up an interesting game where we can’t figure out whose side we should be on or who is the most likely suspect […] While the plot does take several interesting and original turns, it also leaves several dangling thematic threads that make us want a little something more.” Diary of a Spectator

“I like the exaggerated use of red herrings in gialli because it’s part of the camp factor and the entire affair is exaggerated in the best possible way. But almost every other element here is played straight. So, the camera slowly panning away from the could-be-killer while he makes an angry face and stares off into the distance didn’t resonate with me. It felt ham-fisted and overly dramatic […] I also found that the juxtaposition of horror film and police procedural didn’t really gel.” Dread Central

“While it’s not hard to guess all that Initiation has in store, the writers ably ensure that each component complements the rest in a truly invigorating fashion. The actors are all-natural and imbue their characters with much gravitas. The overall production is stylish and engaging, with equal parts drama and horror. There is no reason not to seek the film out.” Film Threat

“Lindsay LaVanchy is a formidable presence as the determined Ellery, acting as an anchor for the audience against the film’s more grim proceedings […] Overall, John Berardo’s Initiation is an engrossing and subversive take on the slasher movie that is worth watching for its complex exploration of toxic masculinity and its charismatic lead performances.” Film Updates

“Berardo delivers classic ‘90s teen horror-comedy with today’s technology and he’s found new and exciting ways to deliver the scares.” The Geekiary

Initiation is so much more. The guys aren’t just bad or creepy nor are the girls whiny or vapid. They actually interact and have friendships, which is a much more interesting way to tell this story. Whether you want to watch Initiation as a slasher horror movie or for the very important plot (that features a masked avenger that kills people in a very inventive way), then be sure to check it out.” Heaven of Horror

“All in all, Initiation gets close – but not quite there. A sudden reveal at the end wraps up loose ends neatly but perhaps not interestingly. The red herrings are obvious, and blaring, and underwritten but overperformed. The gore flows, but feels out of place amidst the social commentary around it.” Horror Buzz

“Aspiring to be this current generation’s Scream, Initiation doesn’t have the finesse or the personality to be that. But for a slasher film with something on its mind other than a body count, it will do.” Horror Obsessive

” …Initiation is a pure whodunnit slasher through and through, keeping you guessing at the identity of the killer all the way up to the shocking reveal. It takes a while to get through the initial setup of the plot, but when the horror finally kicks in, the lengthy setup really pays off.  Writer/director John Berardo proves his fluency in the genre, crafting suspenseful, elaborate murders and throwing in a stellar chase scene for good measure.” Josh @ the Movies

“We have a basic idea of the killer’s motives and methods, but the final reveal does come as a genuine, startling surprise. Initiation raises more questions—about the failures of systems, about uncertainty, about justice—than it wants to or can answer, but that’s not a shortcoming. It’s the whole point.” Mark Reviews Movies

” …Beardo and crew maintain a nice tone that doesn’t demean its characters or devolve into silly voids of laziness. It also looks pretty snazzy too, with cinematographer Jonathan Pope utilizing interesting camera angles to heighten the tension […] It’s just an all-around well planned and executed (pardon the pun) horror film made by people that knew what they were doing…” The MN Movie Man

“This is quality horror at its best. The effects were hideously believable and we are introduced to a killer with a unique method and interesting backstory. Co-writer and director John Berardo put out not only a frightening film but a film that has much meaning in our current social climate.” Nightmarish Conjurings

“After a rough first 20 minutes – and the slayings begin – Initiation finds some groove […] the suspension of disbelief will be required beyond a reasonable doubt, but Initiation understands the type of cheesy movie it wants to be and as pure slumber party fodder, the film is a bridge between forgettable and cult classic.” The Only Critic

“I can’t say I really felt sorry for anyone who got brutally sliced and diced in this, to me they had it coming (it’s a movie, don’t crucify me, haha)! But there’s some pretty awesome kills and blood spill for all you gorehounds.” Pop Horror

” …Berardo’s film becomes a classic campus slasher, throwing up an array of red herrings and mixed motives to confound our attempts at guessing the identity of this calculating killer who is determined to make a bloody example of the victims. At the same time, the film never forgets to situate all its slice and dice beneath the long shadow of patriarchy that always works to the disadvantage of women…” Projected Figures

“With his first feature film after an admirable catalog of short films, Berardo shows a keen sense of horror filmmaking at the helm. He is aided by a sizable cast, whose members all nail their parts no matter the amount of screen time […] With a nice balance of drama and gory kills, Initiation offers solid slasher fare with a good deal of thought behind it.” The Scariest Things

“The film and characters remain compelling the entire time, and only keeps the viewer off guard for when the carnage resumes. When it comes to the slasher movie part of Init!ation, the kills live up to the legacy of Jason and Michael. The murders are brutal, but all human. These are killings a real person is capable of, rather than a supernatural monster.” Showbiz Cheatsheet

“Practical effects are done well enough to make you squirm, and some inventive kills are entertaining. The beginning is a little clunky, but the cast quickly settles into their roles, and the story takes hold. My one complaint with Init!ation is the ending, which is intended as a colossal gotcha and is more a huh.” Signal Horizon

Release date:
In the USA, Saban Films released Init!ation theatrically, On-Demand and on Digital on May 7, 2021.

In the UK, Init!ation will be released on DVD and Digital platforms by Signature Entertainment on May 24, 2021.

Cast and characters:
Froy Gutierrez … Wes Scott
Lochlyn Munro … Bruce Van Horn
Yancy Butler … Detective Sandra Fitzgerald
Jon Huertas … Officer Rico Martinez
Gattlin Griffith … Beau Vaughn
Isabella Gomez … Kylie
Bart Johnson … Coach Miles Cooper
Patrick R. Walker … Malik
Nick Ballard … Tad Rivers
Amber Pauline Magdesyan … Sorority Sister
Kent Faulcon … Chief Adam Tahan
Mel Fair … Brett Vaughn
Shalini Bathina … Meera Madan
Jeff Willy … Investigator
Lindsay LaVanchy … Ellery Scott
David M Sandoval Jr. … Hillsboro Police Officer Barham
Debra De Liso … Dana Thompson
Adam Pepper … Security Officer
Mark Taormino … Cameraman
Maxwell Hamilton … Tyler
Betsy Hume … Jean Reeves
Miles Quincy Martin … Whiton Security Guard
Adin Kolansky … Alvin
Brian Berglund … Police Officer
Reilly Baker … Hot Girl
James Berardo … Dylan

Filming locations:
Los Angeles, California

Working title:

Trailer (US):

Trailer (UK):

MOVIES and MANIA rating:

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