Saturday, January 2, 2010

Horror Movie Review: Prom Night (2008)

Prom Night

Starring: Brittany Snow, Scott Porter, Dana Davis, Ronnie Heflin, Idris Elba, and Johnathan Schaech

Direcor: Nelson McCormick

Writer: J. S. Cardone

Production Companies: Alliance Films, Newmarket Films, and Original Film

Release Date: April 10, 2008

Awards: 2009 Chainsaw Award for Worst Film at the Fangoria Chainsaw Awards

I'm slightly amused that a remake like Prom Night was produced in part by a company called Original Film. Granted Nelson McCormick claims that the only similarity is the name of the movie and, you know, killings at a senior prom. But I think even if you called the film The Cotillion, most anyone familiar with the original would say, "Hey, this is Prom Night."

Donna Keppel's family was killed three years ago by Richard Fenton, a teacher who became obsessed with her. He wanted her for himself, so killing her family was a way to give her nowhere else to go. But he got arrested and put away for life in a psychiactric hospital.

Three years later and Donna's a senior. It's the night of the senior prom. She and boyfriend Bobby are going with friend couples Ronnie and Lisa, and Claire and Michael. Unfortunately, Fenton broke out of the hospital a few days earlier. Let the massacre begin.

In terms of a general film, I didn't see much wrong with it. The acting wasn't great, but wasn't horrible either. The direction seemed reasonable, really, though nothing was really scary in this horror film, which is the is not a horror film. It's an action thriller.

See, horror gets its own genre because it depends on certain things: surprise, shock and scares, and the supernatural. You don't have to have all of these, but mostly there is a combination of some sort. Prom Night doesn't have the surprise. We know who the killer is from the beginning, we know why he is killing, and we can tell when someone is about to get killed. The original Prom Night with Jamie Lee Curtis has surprise. The "killer" from the past wasn't the killer then and isn't the killer now. The original had a well played red herring, the remake doesn't. Because we know who the killer is and can see when and how he is about to kill someone, we aren't scared when he does, and the lack of gore prevents us from being shocked. In Hannibal we know who the killer is, Hannibal Lecter, and we usually know when he's going to kill someone, but tension is increased because of Hopkins's performance and careful delays. Also, we are often shocked by Hannibal's brutality in contrast with his cool, charming demeanor. Clearly Prom Night doesn't have anything supernatural, or implied supernatural. By comparison, the antagonist in John Carpenter's Halloween Michael Myers, behaves in a supernatural sense, although at the beginning he's just an insane killer. We know who the killer is, but his face is constantly hidden behind a mask, he is silent, he seems to appear out of nowhere, and he seems impervious to injury. All of those are beyond the natural. Prom Night doesn't have any of these. It's more like Die Hard. We know the villain, we know he's going to lose, we just don't know how. But with no gore to make it horror and no explosions and car chases to make it action, it's left in genre limbo.

Related Videos

Prom Night

The original Prom Night, released in 1980, followed a masked killer who stalks four teens, at their high school's senior prom, responsible for the accidential death of a child six years earlier.

Clock Tower

Brittany Snow will star in the 2010 release of Clock Tower. This film is an adaptation of the horror video game series which recently released Clock Tower 3. Here is a trailer of the video game.

The Unborn

Idris Elba, who played Detective Winn, starts in The Unborn. A young woman fights the spirit that is slowly taking possession of her.


Johnathan Schaech, who played Richard Fenton, also stars in Quarantine. A television reporter and her cameraman are trapped inside a building quarantined by the CDC after the outbreak of a mysterious virus which turns humans into bloodthirsty killers.

The Stepfather

Director Nelson McCormick tackles another 80's horror remake with The Stepfather. Michael returns home from military school to find his mother happily in love and living with her new boyfriend. As the two men get to know each other, he becomes more and more suspicious of the man who is always there with a helpful hand.

The Forsaken

J. S. Cordone also wrote The Forsaken. A young man gets embroiled in a war against vampires.

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