Is 'Goat' Based On A True Story? Nick Jonas' Movie Feels Disturbingly Real
There's something really unnerving about the new movie Goat . The film, from director Andrew Neel and writer David Gordon Green, tells the story of fraternity hazing that quickly turns dangerous, dark, and (probably) illegal, and the trailer looks horrifying. In the trailer, young fraternity brothers tie pledges together, force them to binge on alcohol, fight each other, and take part in a number of acts that are almost too cruel to describe. In short: it's your everyday college campus nightmare. But, is Goat based on a true story? Hazing, specifically in fraternities and sororities, has garnered lots of discussion around college campuses, but could it really be as bad as Goat makes it seem?
Terrifying as it is, Goat is actually based on an alleged true story, detailed by Brad Land in his memoir Goat. In the book, released in 2004, Land alleged that he had been abused and attacked by strangers (both of whom are unnamed in the book), and then abused again when he rushed Kappa Sigma fraternity after transferring to Clemson University in 1996. Both events are central to the film adaptation. Land claims that he was driving home from a frat party one summer when two strangers allegedly asked him for a ride and proceeded to lure him out to an abandoned road, where they reportedly beat him to a pulp and stole his car. One of the assailants was caught by police and sentenced to 75 years in prison, but the other was never found, according to an article from the LA Times .
After recovering from the incident, Land transferred to Clemson University, following his younger brother, Brett, and decided to rush Brett's fraternity, Kappa Sigma. In the book Goat, Land alleges that he suffered through intense hazing at the hands of his so-called fraternity brothers, but it's unclear whether he ever reported his treatment to the university. Following the release of Land's book, Clemson University's Kappa Sigma President Thomas Meyers told The Greenville News that the events described in Land's book did not reflect the modern frat culture.
Though the movie is based on Land's memoir — it uses the names Brad Land as the protagonist (Ben Schnetzer) and Brett Land as his biological and fraternity brother (Nick Jonas) — it does take a few liberties. Goat condenses Brad's story, lessening the time between the assault and his joining of the fraternity. According to the book, Brad was allegedly assaulted after his freshman year in college, and didn't pledge until the following year, whereas in the film Brad is assaulted over the summer prior to entering college and pledging the fraternity. Another difference: Brett is Brad's older brother in the film, when, in reality, he is actually younger than Brad. As for the hazing, it's unclear how much is taken directly from the book, and how much of the events as seen on-screen are actually true.
A review of the book from SF Gate called some aspects of the chronology into question, noting that Land had (spoiler alert) contradicted his own timeline regarding when he left the fraternity and the death of his fellow pledge, Will. Bustle has reached out about this matter to Random House, which published Land's book, for comment, but hasn't heard back at this time.
Images: Paramount Pictures