At a swish Ivy league university, a poverty-stricken star rower is delighted when he's ôtappedö by a secret society dominated by rich kids. His problems seem to be over. But as he becomes more and more involved, he realises The Skulls will do anything to
The pitch must have gone something like this. "It's The Firm on Campus! It's The Game meets Dawson's Creek! It's got rowing for the sports fans and Joshua Jackson in spandex for the Joshua Jackson in spandex fans! It's all about power and privilege being brought low by an ordinary Joe. It's a can't fail!"
Tragically, this heady brew does indeed fail on almost every level, for screenwriter Pogue and director Cohen have delivered what is simply the most ferociously stupid movie that Hollywood has disgorged in a long time. Indeed, there's a perverse masochistic pleasure to be had in hanging around just to see how much dumber it can get. And on that level, this just keeps giving. Jackson is Luke, a poor kid trying to work his way through law school who also happens to be a rowing star. When he's invited to join "The Skulls", an ultra-secret society dedicated, it seems, to giving each other large wads of cash, he dumps his best mate Will (Harper) in favour of fifth generation Skull and all-round aristo Caleb Mandrake (Walker). Unfortunately, when Caleb accidentally offs Will - leading to one of the movie's greatest rubbish lines as the distressed young plutocrat wails, "Dad! I've killed someone in the ritual room!" - Luke finds that The Skulls will do anything to protect themselves.
The performances are uniformly dismal, with Jackson delivering a turn of such stupefying, lumber-like uselessness that you get the feeling that if the supposed teen ever gets cagey about his real age, we could simply saw him in half and count the rings. But it's Pogue's script that really excels itself.
The idiocies are legion, but there's the fact that the society is so fantastically secret that it has a huge, illuminated skull on its roof. Then there's the Frankenstein's castle-like Skull HQ, where whenever you press a light switch, flaming torches ignite on the walls. Plus the fact that, with its rowing theme, this was probably titled ôScullsö originally, but Americans didn't get it. Unutterable tommyrot.
This is almost mesmerisingly bad. Script, performances, even the production design are woeful. It'll crop up years from now in a season of incredibly bad movies presented by an aged Johnny Vaughn. Don't even watch it then.