Leah Pipes plays the queen of Theta Pi in Sorority Row, and she will admit that it's Queen B for b*tch. The Theta Pis follow her character, Jessica, even when she orchestrates a prank that results in the death of Theta Pi Megan (Audrina Patridge). Rather than go to the police, Jessica convinces the sisters to bury the body and the evidence, and she kind of sells the viewers on her plan, too.
"Well, I had to believe it," Pipes said in an exclusive interview on Aug. 30 in Beverly Hills, Calif. "I had to really figure out what she was saying and what she was really saying is, 'This just happened.' You can see in the scene, at first she does freak out. It's a freaky thing and I needed to show that, I felt, that it does hit her but then she just stops and she wipes off her tears and she says, 'Get me out. Get me out of this situation. Get me out of what comes from this situation. Not everyone else, just me.' So she has to convince everyone around her and I played that scene very much in my own head, where she's not really noticing the other girls and what they're going through. It's very much all about her, as it always is."
Things don't stay buried as Jessica planned and a killer stalks the Theta Pi house on graduation night. Jessica reacts to the killings with the nonchalance of Ash cutting off his own hand in Evil Dead II.
"I think that she isn't there," Pipes continued. "She's not in the situation. She's not really experiencing it. All she's seeing is the way out and she has her goal and she's very focused on that. I don't think she's evil. I didn't see her as evil. I saw her as very determined."
No matter how many sisters die in Jessica's attempts to cover her tracks, it never occurs to her to just stop and go to the police. The killer has phone video of the sisters' prank and evidence they buried with Megan, but Jessica still thinks there's a way out for her.
"Yes, and every problem she's just trying to fix," Pipes said. "She wasn't trying to say, 'Oh, woe is me. How are we ever going to do this? People are dying.' It was like, 'I'm going to ignore death. I'm going to ignore all this tragedy and I'm going to get out of this.' Of course, in the beginning of the film, you do see that she is a b*tch. She will play tricks on people and I think she's just so intelligent and bored that she likes to toy with people. She likes to be manipulative and see what she can make people do. It's not necessarily evil. I just think she's so intelligent that she actually finds most people very boring."
One of Jessica's best lines, before the murders even start and the sister are only worrying about threatening messages on their phones, is when she says, "No one's dead. Well, Megan ... "
"Exactly, she's very self-centered," Pipes agreed.
She also warns another sister, "Don't go out there," with obvious insincerity in a reference to the ultimate horror movie cliche.
"I mean, she's a sarcastic b*tch and of course she wants that girl to die," Pipes said. "She genuinely does. She's genuinely like, 'Oh no, she can go. This situation can actually work for me. There's a killer on the loose and they might kill her and I want her dead so this actually is perfect.'"
Even the film's gratuitous nudity comes from a place of character. Jessica orders an underclassman to remove her towel as she walks back from the senior shower. "Yes, again, she really enjoys power. She likes to manipulate people. They say she's a power whore. I don't think so. This is such an intelligent human being that she's going to get bored and start exploiting her intelligence and exploiting other people while doing so."
Jessica's real comeuppance would not be her possible fate at the hands of the killer. It is actually when Megan's sister (Caroline D'Amore), visiting campus in her sister's honor, calls Jessica out. Jessica is left stuttering with no response, a fate worse than death.
"That moment where I didn't respond wasn't initially in the script," Pipes said. "It kind of happened on the day where she says something to me and I'm supposed to get back in the car but I try to respond and no one's ever done this to me before. So it's like, 'A, a, I, ah, o, uh, I, I will deal with you later.' I don't even know what to say. It's just such a weird [moment] and I hadn't been called out in so long, in that entire film, that it just kind of happened that way where I was so angry as being Jessica and I didn't even know how to respond. So it was perfect that there was no line there in response."
Sorority Row opens Sept. 11.