The fraternity culture is unpacked in this gruesome look into toxic masculinity and American frat culture
Frat life has always had a bad reputation. Hazing, rapes, and even murders happen all the time in American fraternities. Taking a look through the magnifying glass, Goat uncovers layer by layer what it’s like to be part of this dangerous culture and what happens when it goes too far. Also, the film dives into what it’s like to be a young man in modern times where masculinity has become a monster. With a brilliant take on these themes, Goat sparks conversations that need to happen even if you’re not prepared for what’s to come.
Ben (Ben Schnetzer) is experiencing first hand what it’s like to be a young man in a frat house. Suffering from PTSD, he decides to join his brother, Brett’s (Nick Jonas) frat house to try and cope with his previous attack. Ben soon finds out all the pressures put upon men to be as manly as possible and to condemn the “faggot” or “pussy” life. At first, it’s all fun and games, but the movie quickly gets darker and deeper as each scene progress. Nothing is held back as this is a naked look at what goes on inside frat houses. Just as you think this can’t get any worse, the movie reminds you that these events happened in real life.
Nick Jonas and Ben Schnetzer both give solid performances as two brothers trying to cope with the horrors they witness. They are well-written and characters you can get behind. Exploring psychology of the characters, the film peaks into the moral dilemma facing these young men. To do what is right or to do what is needed to fit in is exactly the question always running in their minds. Director, Andrew Neel, portrays the frats as a tribe, always sticking with each other. He also shows the consequences of said mentality, ignoring morality just to become part of the tribe. Ideas of masculinity arise as well showing the social pressures put upon young men. The movie does a good job balancing and showing relevance to these issues while incorporating its characters in various sadistic rituals.
When the main story strays away from its central themes, Goat hardly succeeds. The whole subplot revolving the attack on Brad is rather unnecessary to the movie. Even with lots of attempt at making this event relevant, it just doesn’t fit within the story. Brought back up, in the end, they continue to provide a final explanation of why this is significant to the central story, and it ends up being just fillers.
Ultimately, the attack isn’t the central storyline, and the central story is what works best as a result. The dark and gritty look into frat culture is precisely the story worth telling. Showing relevance to the modern times and having a sense of why this whole “Hell Week” should be banned. The exploration of its themes is what the movie does best, and for the most parts, it sticks to it, telling the story that needs to be told first.