The Initiation opens up with the dream about a little girl stabbing her father with a pair of scissors after she finds her parents together in bed. Shortly after, a strange man enters the room in shock and rage, fighting with Kelly's father. The man is doused in wine, then falls to the ground where he's engulfed in the flames of a fireplace.
The girl having the dream, Kelly Fairchild (Daphne Zuniga), is awakened by the chant of several sorority sisters gathered around her bed. An unexpected ceremony calls Kelly and three other pledges to Delta Rho Chi downstairs, where the initiation is planned out. All of the girls are to break into Kelly's father's mall overnight and steal the nightwatchman's uniform.
Ever since Kelly fell out of a treehouse when she was 9-years-old, she's had amnesia. That's only what her parents told her supposedly happened, but the recurring nightmare still haunts Kelly. In an attempt to figure out or stop the dream, Kelly gets help from Peter Adams (James Read), a teaching assistant at her college. She's hooked up to a dream monitor, while Peter and his assistant Heidi (Joy Jones) try to make something of the dream.
Kelly's father (Clu Gulager) and mother (Vera Miles) have a very strange relationship, possibly caused by a traumatic experience. Kelly's parents don't know anything about the dream, but she suspects that there's some truth to it. One day, her parents get a call from the Fireside Sanitarium about the escape of seven inmates and disappearance of a nurse. Kelly's parents are hiding something from her...
As the night of the initiation approaches, only three of the pledges go on with it because of one of another's dropping-out. The head of the sorority, Megan (Frances Peterson), has also entered the department store with three fraternity boys to scare the girls as an added bonus. The girls cannot find the nightwatchman, so Kelly gets a spare uniform in the lounge. As they are leaving the building, they discover that Megan has locked them out.
Soon, the girls know of Megan's plans, but someone else is in the building... Someone who stalks the college students one by one, waiting in the dark of the mall. They're all killed off, registering a look of shock before they're sliced and diced with various sharp utensils the killer locates conveniently in the building. As the night ends, the shocking truth of Kelly's nightmare is revealed.
As a child, I saw this a few times on TV and still watch it today. Of course, it's not really that original, sometimes being a little similar to John Carpenter's 1978 Halloween, especially the breakout scence at the mental institution. Although, the setup that ends up in the mall is very enjoyable. The mall's atmosphere is very silent and empty, which makes it a great killing spree for the killer. The pace is just a bit slow in some parts, but it's all to develop up to the plot twist. The ending is fairly predictable, but is a great shock factor.
Daphne Zuniga makes an early appearance as the film's leading lady. The film credits it as her debut, but her first film was actually in the 1981 college campus slasher, The Dorm That Dripped Blood (A.K.A. Death Dorm and Pranks), where she gets her head ran over by a car! Zuniga went on to bigger-budget projects later on, though.
The acting's pretty good, except for a few cheesy moments, which add to the fun of this '80s slasher. Absolutely one of my personal all-time favorites, this film is very underrated. Mostly labeled as a bad movie, I thought it was really entertaining and a little scary. Check it out, whether you're a fan of Daphne Zuniga, horror movie fanatic, or just want to have some slasher-frenzy fun!