It is no secret that fraternity hazing, though a widely practiced tradition, is abhorrent and appalling. Films like Goat have examined hazing through the shocking lens of student perspective and insight—but what about a parent’s point of view? The excellent new drama/thriller Rushed, written by producer and lead star Siobhan Fallon Hogan in a career-defining performance, hopes to answer this question by examining the trauma and tragedy suffered by one truly well-intentioned mother. It rips out your heart and stomps on it, and for any parent, this movie could be a worst nightmare come true.
Barbara (Siobhan Fallon Hogan) is the closest thing one would visualize if they thought of the perfect mom. She loves all four of her children, but like any mom she has a favorite: her eldest first-born son, Jimmy (Jay Jay Warren). He just started college, so every single morning on the commute driving the other kids to school, Barbara calls Jimmy to make sure he too is awake for class. It becomes a part of her morning ritual: wake up to an alarm that also disturbs her hilariously patient husband, Jim (Robert Patrick), do her morning prayers, pile the three kids into the car, and rope one of them into calling Jimmy for her.
It just so happens that Jimmy is pledging a new fraternity this week. All Barbara wants is to be supportive for her son to make sure he gets in, which includes helping him enunciate and recite a creed over and over. When she doesn’t hear from Jimmy for a full night, Barbara begins to spiral. The truth, however, is more horrifying than anything she could have envisioned. Jimmy ends up in a coma as a result of a tragic hazing incident, and eventually, they must make the difficult decision to take him off life support. Directionless and depressed, Barbara spends her days chain-smoking and writing angry letters. She becomes a couch potato until she finds new meaning—the possibility of her husband’s senator friend from DC who seems willing to make real changes. Barbara decides to take a long trek to find other moms who have lost their sons to fraternity hazing. Hell hath no fury like a mother scorned…
Opening with rushes blindfolded and led through a deep set of woods, Rushed makes an impact immediately by portraying their animalistic treatment by the sadistic frat members. There is absolutely no care whatsoever for the condition or quality of life. The primary purpose is to embarrass and dominate, embracing the purest definitions of toxic masculinity. Animal Kingdom star Jake Weary portrays perhaps the most toxic of them all, a douchebag named Steve. He clearly sees Jimmy as a threat, as the boy is constantly questioning him or laughing at his rebuttals. In retaliation, Steve forces Jimmy to crawl through shattered beer bottles, pisses on Jimmy’s head, and ultimately, takes it to an entirely unnecessary level with the hazing “accident”.
It is hard to believe that this is Siobhan Fallon Hogan’s first foray into scriptwriting. She does well by her characters, displaying each of them as full-fledged personalities with a heavy dash of realism. The fraternity hazing of the first act folds into the narrative of a grieving mother who wants to avenge her son seamlessly. Siobhan’s Barbara is flawed, but with only the best of intentions, especially when it comes to her undying love for her son Jimmy.
The final act takes a wild turn that will make or break Rushed for any viewer. For me personally, I loved the way the constant ebb and flow of Barbara’s passion, mixed with the grip of trauma and craving for revenge, remain the primary focal point from start to finish. Being a mother can drive you to some heartbreaking extremes, and none are more exemplified than the grueling journey her character takes over the course of the film. Even for those not entirely convinced by its conclusion, there is no denying the sheer power of Siobhan Fallon Hogan’s acting, nor the highly upsetting final moments of Jimmy’s life. A sad fact is that fraternity hazing is not going away anytime soon. The more awareness we spread about this awful practice, thanks to movies like Rushed, can make all the difference in keeping people informed of its potential perils. Maybe it is time to retire that antiquated practice after all…
Rushed accepts new pledges on Friday, August 27 in select U.S. theaters, and will also be available on Apple and Amazon.