Review: ROCK STEADY ROW (2018) – Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival 2018
“At Rock Steady University, only the strong graduate, let alone survive”. We are informed of this fact during the film’s animated introduction. And that should give you an idea of just what a strange film, ROCK STEADY ROW is. A twisted mix of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, MAD MAX and ANIMAL HOUSE all set on a college campus from hell.
The Freshman (Heston Horwin, DEAD DICKS) rides into Rock Steady University on his bicycle. Within minutes, it’s stolen. Very shortly after that he’s kicking ass and getting in trouble with The Dean (Larry Miller, The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot) who gets a cut of the proceeds from the sale of the stolen bikes.
It seems rising tuition costs and dwindling financial aid have turned the campus into something of a war zone. And our hero is going to have to play the two dominant fraternities Kappa Brutus Omega and The High Society against each other, and the administration, to get his bike back.
Part action film, part satire on the state of higher education and part absolutely mad farce, this isn’t a film for everybody. A lot of people won’t get it, and a lot will find it silly. But it’s a fun ride for those who can go with it. The interactions between the amoral Freshman and his idealistic journalist roommate, Piper (Diamond White) are especially enjoyable.
Director Trevor Stevens and writer Bomani J. Story pack the film’s 72-minute run time full of barbs at higher education, tuition costs, lousy faculty, fraternity/rape culture etc., but mix it with enough film geek references and action that it never feels heavy-handed. But how heavy-handed can a film that uses pencils as a deadly weapon be?