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Prom Night (2008)

Prom Night review (click to see it bigger)Reviewed by Nomad

Starring Brittany Snow, Dana Davis, Johnathon Schaech and Idris Elba

Directed by Nelson McCormick


It is the age of the remake. Why bother having an original thought when you can option a cult classic and make it your own? Even better, why not buy a “could have been” film and mold it into box office gold?! This is the plight of Prom Night 2008. Think of this film as the clumsy, awkward, unskilled nephew hired to work with his house-building uncle. He shows up 20 minutes early every day and shows a lot of hustle, but five times a day he trips going up the stairs, knocks over paint cans, puts his hammer through the drywall, smacks people upside the head as he turns a corner with the ladder, and blows out the electricity when his soda explodes all over the fuse box. You could see this boy tried hard, but he’s just a train wreck, and any attempt to cover that up won’t last long.

Prom Night is the story of Donna (Snow) who returns home one night to find her psycho stalking teacher (Schaech) has cut a swath through her family. She even gets a front row seat as he stabs her mother several times as she watches, clutching her mouth, from under a bed. She survives the ordeal, and Mr. Richard Fenton, super freak, is caught. Flash forward some time. Donna still has nightmares about her ordeal but she’s coping. It’s prom night and she’s set to party with her boy friend and two other couples. Unfortunately, Mr. Fenton has escaped!! (dun dun duuuuun) Now it’s a race against time to find Fenton before he finds Donna … and the rest of her graduating class.

My first comment will be that this is a remake, but it isn’t a remake. All Prom Night shares with its 1980’s brother is a name. That said, I begin my rant.

Prom Night review (click to see it bigger)Prom Night seems to be suffering an identity crisis. At times, it seemed to want to be a Scream/ I Know What You Did Last Summer sort of sexy, glossy film with quick cuts, blaring music from today’s hottest bands setting a tone for a cast of pretty little people. Other times, it adapts the slow stalking, violent tone of a classic slasher film. This mix works badly together. The pieces are so different from each other that it’s almost as if two different directors put their spin on the script and neither of them understands what makes for a successful horror film. When I say that, I’m well aware that some bloodless PG-13 jump fests have raked in plenty of cash in the past, so I’m absolutely including those in my assessment, quantifying success as being both a GOOD film and a monetarily positive one. Prom Night is poorly written, ill conceived, and executed with the excitement of a children’s cough medicine commercial. Actually, in the commercial, I usually feel bad for the kid.

It is very hard to bash the actors in this film, as it seems they were given nothing to work with. Brittany Snow slips from mock teenage giggling girl to sobbing horror heroine fairly well, though I couldn’t help feeling her performance was a bit over the top at times, reminding me of what a particularly dramatic moment in a soap opera might look like. Sadly, she’s the stand out as the rest of the cast, save one other, may as well have been giant paper dolls or mannequin place holders cast in white with bar codes on their heads indicating their roles: the supportive friend, the needy friend, super white awesome boyfriend, dedicated police officer, etc., etc. To add a bit of hilarity, the cops are given unfortunate names like Stryker, Hicks, and Nash.

I mentioned a second stand out before, and that would be Johnathon Schaech. The odd thing would be that his teary eyed close-ups cause you to feel a bit sorry for his character … as he longingly stares at his teenage obsession. For me, anything that causes an inner conflict like that is good stuff! It means the actor took me in a direction I didn’t expect to go. Unfortunately, I’m not supposed to go there! Did the director really hope for us to feel bad for the pedophilic homicidal maniac? I think not. I find it hysterical that we are meant to feel so much for this killer while we are given zero insight into any other character in the film, making us not care for their lives even for a second. We’ve got one friend who is obsessed with beating a snotty, rich girl for the prom queen title, her sex starved boyfriend, another friend who cries her way through half the movie, and her man whose signature look is flustered. Donna’s boyfriend punctuates his sentences with a Ryan Seacrest-esque toothy smile while Detective Winn, our hero, mugs his way through the determined hard-boiled cop routine. Yeah … go ahead. Kill them all.

Prom Night review (click to see it bigger)Prom Night is shot with the artistic eye someone gives while finely crafting a Lifetime original film. You know the one. This October, Lifetime takes a break from the courageous tale of a woman surviving (insert disease name here) to tell the somewhat creepy tale of a woman pursued by a stalker ex-boyfriend. It’s dramatic … it’s sappy … it’s immensely dull. It does nothing to further a genre, tell an original story, or strive for ANY sort of newness. Prom Night shares this plight. Watching the killer poke holes in his victims, we sit silently as they slump to the floor with not a drop of blood spilled. It occurred to me that this was the cleanest killer in movie history.

Our director is working with a fairly good-looking killer so he is forced to pour on the camera angles to make him appear creepier. Think about Matthew McConaughey coming at you with a knife. You’d probably go … “OH! Good lookin guy is going to kill me? Naaaa.” Not scary even for a second, so the director throws Schaech into shadows and over the shoulder in the mirror. This mirror shot is repeated to the point of sickness as it practically becomes a fetish of the creator. You’ll get 15 jump scares (Creepy asked me to count!) in this film, 2 of which made my date jump (I might mention she is afraid of EVERYTHING). I’d also mention she decided to take a nap halfway through the film and at one point threatened to leave me.

As if this film were not disjointed enough, it appears to be cut to shreds. I’m not saying it looks like key points were left on the cutting room floor as the crew scrambled to salvage some semblance of a horror film; I’m saying as the film moves from scene to scene, you often get a jarring jump. This is the kind of thing you’d expect when a film catches fire and a projectionist is forced to splice ends together, cross his fingers, and hope for the best. The editor should be shot.

With a plot you can pack into two sentences, one stray spray of blood, an emo killer, and the tension of a very special episode of “Silver Spoons”, we’re left with no reason to support horror this weekend … at least on the big screen. In fact, this is the sort of film that should be punished. Is it really that hard to make a scary movie? Was this crew even aware they were making a horror film??!! A complete waste of my time and yours. I bit the bullet to get you this review. Don’t let my sacrifice be in vain. DON’T GO INTO THE MOVIE!!!

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1/2 out of 5

Discuss Prom Night in the Dread Central forums!

Nomad

  • Terminal

    WIB was right. This sucked, but it wasn’t as awful as something like “One Missed Call.” The biggest problem was boredom. It doesn’t even try to entertain, it just takes itself much too seriously.

    And no, this can’t be a remake.

  • PelusaMG

    I’m watching an info-mercial about a back exerciser, which looks like the woman using it is being shagged by ED-209!

    Nothing to do with this film, but I would hazzard a guess that it is slightly more entertaining!

  • Caine Is Able

    Most likely word of mouth won’t kill it at all…girls will claim this to be the “scariest” movie they have ever seen.

  • Nomad

    Yeesh..this made 9 mili opening night. Now we watch and see if word of mouth kills it.

  • bludgeoner

    Just as I thought, a total piece of shit. Cheers for the review – I will be buying a copy of this movie when it’s out on DVD so I can burn it and piss on the ashes.

    “Life is a hideous thing, and from the background behind what we know of it peer daemoniacal hints of truth…”
    -H. P. Lovecraft


    My movie collection @ http://bludgeoner.dvdaf.com/owned
    -

  • Nomad

    Because he’s a sadomasochist?

  • Hunter1006

    Ahh, there’s nothing like a good PG-13 Spring slasher remake! Well… the options are to pay $9 for this, or $9 to see Keanu Reeves as a cop.

    Can’t say I’m excited for either, but if anything I’ll go see “Prom Night” for the same reason Tristan Sinns will.

  • What The Cat Dragged In

    This is the greatest horror movie ever made.

    Oh wait, we’re not talking about “Psycho?” Oh, nevermind.

  • Chainsaw

    In McConaughey’s defense, he did get through TCM: TNG and Frailty without people going “Oooooo, pretty guy coming to kill me.” :D

    Actually, I wouldn’t mind seeing McConaughey star as a psycho killer who always goes “Alright, alright” before he stabs someone with a machete.

  • Terminal

    “Brittany Snow looks like she’s 30 in some of the promo stills. Is it so difficult to cast actors who actually look like they’re in high school?”

    If they could, they would.

    I’m surprised people here are drawing so much attention to the little thing like age. They always cast people in their early twenties to play high schoolers, because often they want curvy and attractive and many high schoolers at that age are not so appealing, and I gather it’s tough to find competent actors in the proper age range.

    Let’s move on to another criticism.

    The fact it’s Pg-13, the fact they remade an awful movie into an awful movie, the fact that the potential for improvement is gone, the fact that it’s barely even a remake at all.

  • Terminal

    “I fucking hate when they cast actors in their 30s as teens. WALK HARD does a hilarious parody of this, when John C. Reilly plays 12 year old Dewey Cox.”

    Actually “Scary Movie” was one of the first to do it, drawing attention to their cast of thirty somethings playing High schoolers.

  • Terminal

    I’m pretty sure the girls from “Halloween” were in their mid to late twenties, and yet no one really complained. I think we need a better criticism.

    As for the movie sucking, big surprise.

  • Sirand

    It sucks? What a shocker.

  • Morgan Elektra

    In all fairness, Brittany Snow is only just 22 (just as in turned 22 in the beginning of March this year)… so at 21 during filming she’s not a ton older than a highschool senior. We’re not talking a Gabrielle Carteris, who was 29 when 90210 first aired, or James Marsters who was 35 when BtVS started.

  • joey1242

    Is it actually possible that this is worse than One Missed Call? I really dont think so, but Dread gave OMC a little higher rating than PN.

  • Mr. Dark

    Excellent review, but I have to wonder…is this thing worth that much hard work? This is one of those movies I’d be tempted to go the Spinal Tap route with.

    “Prom Night? Shit Night.”

    Mr. Dark
    Part-Time Dread Central Gaming Guy
    Full-Time Freelance Smartass

  • Tristan Sinns

    I’m still going to see this as I need good fodder for the end of the year’s top five worst films list.

  • Rorschach

    I fucking hate when they cast actors in their 30s as teens. WALK HARD does a hilarious parody of this, when John C. Reilly plays 12 year old Dewey Cox.

    Sad thing is, WALK HARD’s satire is not far off. 28 year olds playing seventeen year olds is a bit of a stretch….I mean, when your seventeen year old character is played by an actress who has crows’ feet….it’s time to recast the part, or age the character appropriately.

  • Victor Crowley

    I got a free ticket to this movie when I bought Borderland. I think I’m gonna head down to the theater and sell it to some kid for $5.

  • Kryten Syxx

    Brittany Snow looks like she’s 30 in some of the promo stills. Is it so difficult to cast actors who actually look like they’re in high school?