(Release Date: April 11, 2008)
(Premiere Date: April 10, 2008 [Australia])
What sets Prom Night apart from the rest of this babbling gaggle of lame-ass Horror remakes is that it's markedly toned down from the consistent blood-fest that passes for horror to the low in IQ. Toned down enough for an MPAA rating of PG-13. While, in some ways, that can be a bit refreshing (meaning we won't see the same pointless limit-pushing that movies from Splatinum Dooms give us), the end result is a somewhat careful, by-the-numbers, inoffensive and muted film without sex, nudity, gore or a good script.
A flashback/ dream sequence sets up the plight of our female lead Donna Keppel (Brittany Snow), who is tortured by memories of an obsessed teacher (Johnathon Schaech's Richard Fenton) coming over to her house and going all Butch Defeo on her whole family in the vain hope that this will endear him to her. Now that's darned rude and, really, pretty self defeating. I mean, I had some fights with my parents, but I can't imagine suddenly wanting to sleep with somebody who did them in, man. She asks her therapist Dr. Elisha Crowe (Ming Na) for advice on getting over this nightmare, when she really should've been asking why the hell Ming Na would agree to be in this movie. But then again, I guess she'd have to follow that question with an inquiry about why Brittany Snow signed on, so safer to stick to the script, I'm thinking.
Still, for a girl who has lived through such horror, Donna seems remarkably well adjusted. I would've expected her to go all Goth and spend her Saturdays working up the courage to take the stage during the weekly Java Delights open mic night poetry readings. But no, instead she's getting her hair done and getting all ready to go to the prom with her new, peppy boyfriend Bobby (Scott Porter)! It gets so Hallmark that they actually have one of those same-old, lame-old conversations about how he doesn't want to hold her back by letting her follow him to College instead of pursuing her dreams at her Ivy League school-to-be. Aaaaaaaaaw!
Yeah, diabetics beware.
After the obligatory "Hair Salon" scene, Donna sets about her task to head to prom in a triple date with her cute friend Claire (Jessica Stroup) and their INCREDIBLY HOT friend Lisa (Dana Davis). Oh, and Claire and Lisa's dates Michael (Kelly Blatz) and Ronnie (Collins Pennie), blah, blah, blah, nobody cares, back to Dana Davis!
Good GRIEF is Dana Davis ever hot! I don't know what happened, man! I've seen her on ABC's The Nine and she's been on Heroes and Gilmore Girls, even Veronica Mars, but she always looked like a kid. She doesn't look like a kid now. That low-cut prom dress must've been Kevlar Laced to keep from un-seaming as the twins shook its foundations. The only thing as noticeable as her plot-upstaging breasts are her big, beautiful, dark eyes. Charles Darwin in a Fantsasti-Car, this woman is hot. I'm not even sure it was a good idea to cast her in this movie, because as lovely as Brittany Snow is (and she is), Dana Davis is even hotter. There were times I forgot there were other people even IN this movie. I'd better stop right now. My 10th Wedding Anniversary is in one day... I'd hate to get divorced now.
Anyway, the Trio of Duos heads to some Luxurious hotel, completely oblivious to the fact that on that very night, psychotic Bitchard is back in town, having escaped from his insane asylum only days before. Hey, did you ever notice how virtually every slasher movie features an escaped inmate taking leave of his confinement just before some special red-letter day? Halloween, Friday the 13th, Prom Night, April Fool's Day, Christmas. I don't know about you people, but I'm loading my pump-action shotgun this Arbor Day just to be on the safe side. Actually, that'd be kind of cool! "J.C. Maçek III IS The Gardener in... ARBOR DAY! Make like a Tree... AND LEAVE!"
So as the girls dance up a storm at this hotel (decorated up like the Palladium in an episode of Club MTV) and the guys work on scoring in the suite upstairs, Police Detective Winn (Idris Elba), Donna's Aunt Karen (Jessalyn Gilsig) and Uncle Jack (Linden Ashby) are freaking out at the possibility that Bitchard McSlashy might be checking into the hotel himself and having a really KILLER TIME. Here's the thing, though, they're right. Home dude is there and he's already started killing people when he's not staring lecherously at Donna as often as possible. Shouldn't the possibility even cause these caring souls to have Donna cut to the photos, skip din-din and come the hell home? I realize that Prom is one of those proverbial nights to die for, but I didn't think anybody actually took that literally.
No, though, the show goes on in its own slow, ordinary pace. I actually started nodding off at one point as this alleged Horror flick plodded along with stock, canned conversation about High School, College, The Future, Boyfriends... Bubble-gum crap. The only thing that woke me up was Dana Davis' Baywatch-esque slow-motion jiggle moments. That's especially when the sexy teacher Ms Waters (Mary Mara) gives Davis' character a lusty once-over and moans a compliment about how great she looks. Yeah, I was awake for that part, as was my imagination!
The rest is pretty much a movie you've already seen, toned down for the PG-13 crowd but otherwise following the same stock clichés that have gone into virtually every nostalgic Horror rehash since the turn of this dumb century. There's barely any logic or character development and almost no exploration of just why this idiot teacher was so obsessed or what his major malfunction was. Virtually everything in this whole movie is a McGuffin! It feels as if the six producers took a laundry list of Horror Flick inactive ingredients that they thought might make them some money, packaged it up under a name they had the rights to and handed it to writer J.S. Cardone (one of the executive producers and also a Video Nasty Alumnus) to haphazardly tape together into a script. Director Nelson McCormick (who was not a producer) doesn't do a terrible job, but also seems to have realized this was never going to be a great movie.
These things make the fact that the acting doesn't suck all the more noteworthy. Look, I'm not claiming that this flick deserves Oscar Nominations in all four Acting Categories, but none of the actors here do a poor job with what they're given and none of them deemed it necessary to phone it in. Brittany Snow isn't bad at all and is more than a pretty face and even her preppy-boy beau Scott Porter does a decent enough job being the standard, happy high school heart-throb, without being completely obnoxious. Johnathon Schaech, though ranging between wild-eyed psychosis and slow-the-plot-down pause acting, is no worse than any of your other nickel-a-gross thriller villains out there. Dana Davis steals the show, however in virtually every way. The scenes in which she's running away from the stalking maniac are almost worth the price of the DVD. To be fair, I sort of forgot there was a stalking maniac behind her and just watched her run.
Now that'd've made a good film. Prom Night, starring Dana Davis, Jessica Stroup and Brittany Snow. Ronnie, Michael and Bobby go home early to update their Fantasy Football pages, so Lisa, Claire and Donna stay to dance together and get their photos made and sip the bubbly. Them Ms Walker shows up and asks Lisa to meet her in the suite upstairs at Midnight, so just as the Cinderella-reminiscent Grandpa Clock starts to chime, Lisa sprints in slow-motion down the hallway for a night she'll never forget. Nobody gets killed, although I do imagine "the little death" would be experienced multiple times. Maybe Claire and Donna could show up around 2 and say "What are you two DOING?", only to be shown instead of told!
See, they should hire ME to write horror movies... even the remakes. We're talking entertainment, man! That's how the movie would've gone if it had been made in Japan! You think I'm kidding? Watch Eko Eko Azaraku! Man... I gotta review Eko Eko Azaraku! Surely it would get more than Two Stars out of Five. Prom Night, though... sorry, Dana, but that's all Prom Night gets. You know, here's me being nice... it's a decent enough primer for Slasher Flicks, gentle enough to let a teenager watch, scary and entertaining enough to keep a semblance of interest. This is to quality slasher flicks what a Big Mac is to a Prime Rib. If you can't have one, settle for the other (but hold the Mayo). For just a quick mass-marketed, mass-produced less-than-individualized, single-serving pop slasher flick, this one isn't the worst and it beats any slasher flick with the words "Texas", "Chainsaw" or "Massacre" in the title to have come out in the last twenty years. Unlike the original Prom Night, I'm thinking there won't be any sequels to this one. Then again, if they found a way to get Lisa to return, I'd watch the HELL out of that movie. Hello Lisa Hines: Prom Night II! Call me, Screen Gems, I've got some ideas.
I'm going up to the Suite for a little while,
You call me when they're announcing the Court...
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