Review by Michael Jacobson
Stars: Brittany Snow,
Scott Porter, Jessica Stroup, Lisa Hines, Ronnie Heflin, Idris Elba, Jonathon
Director: Nelson McCormick
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Features: See Review
Length: 89 Minutes
Release Date: August 19, 2008
“We’ll be together forever…that’s my promise.”
I was getting a little weary of the trend of taking classic horror movies and remaking them for modern audiences. Now, we’ve come to an even less desirable place: taking mediocre movies and bringing them back. The original Prom Night was little more than an attempt to cash in on the Carrie craze, so why bother with a new one?
Or is that even the case? There seems to be little in common between the new and 80s versions apart from the title. The violence is even toned down quite a bit, even in this unrated version. Pretty much all this movie offers is standard teen-death-slasher movie clichés in abundance, so even re-imagining didn’t require a lot of imagination.
Donna (Snow) is a troubled girl. Three years earlier, a teacher named Fenton (Schaech) who was obsessed with her flipped out and murdered her whole family, including killing her mother while she watched from under the bed in a bit that had to have been inspired by Kill Bill. But though the investigating Detective Winn (Elba) believed Fenton would get the death penalty, he instead got life at an institution.
Flash forward...it’s Donna’s prom night, but all is not well. Fenton has escaped from the hospital, though she doesn’t know it. Now, what’s supposed to be the most magical night of her young life is about to be turned upside down as stupid teenagers go wandering off alone and the body count piles up.
There aren’t many surprises here. Mentally, I was mapping out the story before it unfolded. The movie even tips its hand when a desk clerk at the hotel where the prom is held starts reading off a laundry list of what the hotel offers, including ways in, ways out, the basement, the construction on the mezzanine…I mean, it pretty much tells you where we’re going to be visiting as the film unfolds. And what's going to happen there.
It’s a barely competently acted and directed exercise, with actors too old to be playing teens (of course), but offers nothing fresh, scary, or truly suspenseful. We get more fake scares than real ones. I mean, how many times can mirrors be used to create surprises before we’re no longer surprised? And other problems, like why does Fenton need to break down a hotel door when he’s stolen a master key? And why does the damn cop think Fenton couldn’t have escaped the hotel when he just ordered the several hundred clients of the hotel out in a mass evacuation? Hello?
By the way, have proms really gotten so elaborate? Maybe I’m just old, but I remember gyms decorated with paper and wire. Here we have a big hotel shindig and a Hollywood themed night complete with red carpet. Of course, the hotel was somewhat necessary: kids racing off to the rooms upstairs make for easy pickings for Fenton, as they violate the two basic rules of horror: don’t have sex, and don’t leave the group.
When I want horror, I want to be scared. At least intrigued. Even surprised a little bit. I mean, if you can’t scare me with your film, at least have me say at least once, “wow, I never saw that coming”. My only reaction to this was some depression. Prom Night plays like a film school exercise in horror, where the idea was to hit everything on a predetermined checklist. Your brain will be racing the film to its own conclusion, and your brain will win by at least a couple of lengths.
This Blu-ray transfer is top notch, with plenty of big and small scenes as well as lighter and darker settings to really demonstrate the contrast capabilities of high definition. Colors are bright and natural looking throughout, and the detail level in both wide and close shots is remarkable.
Slasher movies don’t seem to require as much from audio as supernatural horror films do, but this Dolby TrueHD delivers some good dynamic range (thanks to the music) and a few loud bumps (thanks to the fake scares). Dialogue is well delivered throughout, and I noticed no distortions or interference in any of the channels.
The disc starts with a good commentary from director Nelson McCormick with his stars Brittany Snow and Jonathon Schaech. There are four featurettes on the film, five deleted scenes, an alternate ending, a gag reel, an interactive where-to-hide-the-body quiz, a trailer, a TV spot, photo galleries, and one Blu-ray extra: the ability to watch the movie with storyboard comparisons picture-in-picture.
You’ve seen it before, you’ve seen it done better. Prom Night might most be remembered as a remake that actually was less bloody than the original, that is, if you can really consider it a remake at all. Horror seems to be at a low ebb and in need of fresh ideas pretty fast.