Frat House is a documentary film exploring the darker side of fraternity life. The film was directed by Todd Phillips and Andrew Gurland, and largely filmed at Allentown, Pennsylvania's Muhlenberg College; the majority of the film was shot in the house of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, whose charter was revoked in 2000 (although has since rechartered). The opening fraternity, that drove the filmmakers out of the college and the town, is the Beta Chi fraternity on the State University of New York College at Oneonta campus in Oneonta New York. Beta Chi is an unrecognized fraternity in Oneonta, and was kicked off the Oneonta campus after reports of severe hazing. Beta Chi is currently an interim recognized Fraternity at SUNY Oneonta. Other unrecognized fraternities from SUNY Oneonta shown in the film include Sigma Alpha Mu, also known as "Sammy", and Tau Kappa Epsilon, which was recognized in the spring of 2007 but shortly thereafter lost their recognition from the campus. Frat House won two Sundance Film Festival awards in 1998, but has been attacked for containing sequences that were staged for the cameras.
Frat House was originally intended to be shown on the HBO TV channel, but was never aired after receiving allegations that much of the final portion of the film was staged. The sequences concerned involved 'hazing', in which aspiring members of the fraternity (known as 'pledges') are seen undergoing humiliating initiation rites. The allegation is that the pledges who appear on screen were in fact already members of the fraternity: the fraternity chapter was paid $1500 to film the events, and several members were paid $50 each to pretend to be pledges and re-enact things that were rumored to happen during fraternity pledging rituals. The filmmakers signed non-binding forms stating that the school and fraternity names would not be used, and that the events did not reflect the behavior of the fraternity. The deceit was noticed because the film was shot in the Spring, but Muhlenberg College did not rush during the Spring.
Phillips and Garland claim their film is completely accurate, but they have not refuted the claim that pledging did not happen during the Spring at Muhlenberg College. While not admitting to have done it himself, Phillips argues that staging re-enactments of true events is a technique used by well-known documentarians such as Nick Broomfield and Michael Moore.