Andrew Neel’s Goat wants to be a shocking exposé of fraternity hazing, but it undercuts itself at every step. After surviving a beating during a carjacking, 19-year-old Brad (Ben Schnetzer) begins attending the college where his older brother Brett (Nick Jonas) is a big man in the bro-tastic Phi Sigma Mu fraternity. His Weasley-esque roommate Fitch (Danny Flaherty) is determined to join, which means submitting to Hell Week, those sessions of torture and humiliation by frat bros — the majority of whom are indistinguishable from the townies who beat up Brad. Though it’s likely faithful to the timeframe in the source memoir by Brad Land, Goat‘s dramatic tension is neutered by the fact that after any given scene of abuse, Brad and Fitch are back in their dorm rooms relatively safe and sound. Even the much-vaunted Hell Week is over by the end of the second act, though the hazing — and repeated threats of goat-fucking — goes on. The best thing about Goat is Arjan Miranda’s thrumming, menacing electronic score, first introduced in a slow-motion opening sequence that suggests the picture wants to be the masculine equivalent of Spring Breakers, but lacks the depth of that film. Thematically, Goat most resembles the consensual abuse documentary The Blackout Experiments and somehow manages to make even that movie look psychologically deep.
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