Dying to Belong (1997 NBC/Lifetime)

Hilary Swank pre Oscars with Becky 2 in a questionable hooded ensemble.

Dying to Belong (1997 NBC/Lifetime)

Cast: Hilary SwankSarah ChalkeJenna von OÿMark-Paul Gosselaar

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Synopsis (via Lifetime)

When a college hazing kills a girl’s friend, she is the only one who can find out the truth.


The movie begins with sorority girls kidnapping a girl named Anne Marie and blindfolding her. They drive her to the middle of nowhere land leave her stranded. She chases after them screaming about her medicine. She tries to wave down a car but is run over instead. Poor, stupid, Anne Marie. 

One year later, two time Oscar winner Hilary Swank plays a wide-eyed new college student. Her mother pushes her daughter to join her sorority and gives her a pin. Lisa doesn’t like her alternative blue-haired roommate and swaps out with fellow girl scout, Shelby. (Seriously.) 

Lisa sets her sights on getting on staff at the school paper. The advisor is annoyed with her, and so is the editor in chief, Steven Tyler… NOT THAT ONE! (Mark-Paul Gosselaar with dark hair AND glasses.) He warns her about the sorority and the student who was killed in a hazing incident. Then he asks her out on a date, very smooth.

Shelby is determined to make it into the sorority but doesn’t seem to be as a good fit as Lisa. Drea and Shannon take a liking to Lisa. The parties continue, which involves excessive drinking and traversing a mountain? Not my kind of party. I’ll drink my wine and watch Lifetime. Thank you.

The dean of students talks with the sorority. This sends Shelby into a tailspin. She thinks everyone hates her and thinks she is stupid/ugly. Lisa promises not to accept a bid if Shelby doesn’t get in. 

Steven Tyler and Lisa continue to date set to Sophie B. Hawkins, “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover.” They ride bikes and hang in the library; it is all pretty tame.  

They both make it into the sorority as pledges, and the friends are forced to wear hoods and prick their fingers and sign a promise in blood. “You give up what you are to become what you will be.” Which is such backward speak, I can’t even. Then they steal a statue and do other dumb pranks. (Like eat glass.) They also do the customary hazing rituals like degrading the new girls while they are in bikinis and circle “trouble areas.”

The sorority takes over Lisa’s life, and she doesn’t have time to spend with Steven Tyler. She also gets rejected from the school newspaper. Lisa apologizes to Steven Tyler while he is thankfully in a bathing suit for no reason. (I’m into it!)

Sorority girls pressure Shelby to be the best pledge and hang a hanging a sorority banner on a campus building. She falls off the building, and Lisa is horrified. Witnesses claim Shelby was on the ledge alone, the girls who were up there with her lie to cover it up. They do go to her funeral tho.

The dean of students investigates and wants to keep a clean university record. There have never been any charges of hazing. Mostly because the Dean of Students has been covering them up. Steven Tyler looks into it and writes an OP-ED. He is bear up for frat guys for speaking out. Detectives look into the assault and question the greek life on campus.

Lisa makes Steven Tyler feel better with a tame made for TV movie sex scene. Mark-Paul Gosselaar takes his shirt off again here, making this a very horny 90’s TV movie. 

A bouquet of bloody flowers shows up in Lisa’s room and is an obvious threat. Then drugs are planted in her car, and she is arrested. Lisa confronts her sorority sisters and accuses them of hiding something. Steven Tyler locates Anne Marie (Who I guess didn’t die.) It turns out she was paid off for her silence by the school. She was hazed by Pi Gamma Beta. Lisa’s sorority sisters! When Steven Tyler tries to print the story, he is fired from the paper.

A blue van pulls up to Steven and Lisa. It is frat boys again. They punch Steven Tyler and kidnap Lisa. She is tied up and thrown in a freezing cold river in the middle of winer. Lisa plods through the woods and comes across a car. It is Steven Tyler with a blanket. What a freaking gentlemen.

Lisa’s mother finally believes her daughter and regrets not listening to her concerns. They go to the police. Lisa convinces Drea and another sorority girl to meet her in the tower where Shelby died. They sister confess to what really happened. They come forward and the Dean of Students has to admit to a hazing incident to Steven Tyler who is a REAL reporter now.

The sorority house is closed and the sister move out. Lisa watches with her mom and Steven Tyler victoriously.

Side Note

The soundtrack in this movie SLAPS! 

Also Known as: The Initiation. 

Minority Report: Professor, should have been more POC college students, police officer.

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Overall rating

🔪🔪🔪🔪🔪 (5 Knives)

🍷🍷🍷 (3 glasses of wine required.)

*Photo Credit: © 1997 Lifetime

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