Directed by: Nelson McCormick
Premise: A high school senior attends her prom on the same night that the stalker who killed her family escapes from a mental hospital. He crashes her prom, killing off her classmates while making his way to her.
What Works: This film is sort of a remake of the 1980 slasher film of the same title. It borrows the name and the basic premise but radically changes the story. This is largely to the film’s benefit since the original Prom Night is remembered as a much better picture than it actually is, even by the meager standards of early 1980s slasher films. Brittany Snow is a better actress than the material she is working with, and she does what she can with it. The opening of the film shows some edge, especially for a PG-13 horror film.
What Doesn’t: Although its innovations are improvements over the original film, Prom Night is still not very good at all. On the whole, the picture just isn’t very scary. The filmmakers have no sense of suspense and nearly every stalking scene is spoiled by lousy timing, a soundtrack that is way too busy, and ill-advised camera work. To secure a PG-13 rating the filmmakers leave out the gore, but this makes a lot of the murders look ridiculous as people’s throats are slashed open but they don’t bleed. Prom Night is also pretty disastrous as a genre piece because it manages to play out all of the clichés while violating some basic rules of the slasher film. It uses and often repeats familiar images like the mirror gag or walking into an empty room to investigate a strange noise but it also robs the heroine of the ability to be heroic, making her just another passive character like the rest of the victims. Brittany Snow’s character is jumpy, which is understandable given the film’s opening, but throughout the story she screams at every little thing and lacks a sense of trauma that would give her character some depth and provide her with obstacles to overcome.
Bottom Line: Prom Night cannot be recommended, even if it is flashier than the original film. It is yet another remake from the cycle of horror films of the 1970s and 80s that reduces an established franchise to a name brand in order to make a quick buck. It fails as an exercise in craft and as entertainment.
Episode: #193 (June 15, 2008)