Review: ‘Goat’ and Its Unreached Potential

Jenna Pappas ’20 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Andrew Neel’s Goat is about an assault and it’s aftermath on a nineteen year old boy, Brad (Ben Schnetzer). The experience emasculates him and his brother, Brett (Nick Jonas), recommends he join the same fraternity as him, Phi Sigma Mu. The fraternity puts Brad and other freshman through a series of increasingly hellish hazing methods. A rift begins to occur between Brad and Brett, the younger brother wanting to prove himself, while the older wants to protect him. Goat succeeds in some areas but lacks greatly in others.

Ben Schnetzer and Nick Jonas in Goat. Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

The film does a great job at showing the full brutality of hazing. The scenes of forced beer guzzling, sexual humiliation, and physical assault are disturbing and well done. The hazing scenes are reminiscent to the iconic assaults by Alex and his Droogs in Stanley Kubrick’s, A Clockwork Orange. Andrew Neel’s film also brings forth an interesting connection between the similar psychological damage of violent assaults and violent hazing rituals.

Goat fails to fully bring forward deeper meaning. It’s based on the real life experiences in Brad Land’s 2004 memoir about pledging to Clemson University’s Kappa Sigma. The movie is almost documentary style- as if it’s only purpose is to “expose” fraternity culture. If that’s the case then Goat came a couple years too late considering how the general public is aware of such phenomenon because of the many recent hazing horror stories making their way to the news. Goat had a lot of unfinished points it could’ve gone more into other than just the simple “fraternities are bad”. It felt like it began but never finished its statements on masculinity, PTSD, and the relationship between criminal and ritual violence.

Nick Jonas in Goat. Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

What’s most frustrating is while the first two acts of Goat had their flaws, they effectively built up the suspense and a promise of a meaningful climax. The third act completely falls flat and the movie’s ending feels incomplete, in fact, the movie cuts off in the middle of a scene. In some cases this technique works well, but at the end of Goat it felt like Andrew Neel didn’t know how to end his film. Goat has all the elements of a much better film and it’s a shame the plot could not be tightened enough to create a great movie.

Overall Grade: C

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