MOVIE: Prom Night (2008)

Remember how last March I rented the original Prom Night (1980) and then wrote a review of it that ended with, “In any case, after seeing it again, I’m definitely now rooting for the remake.  It’s not like they could make it any WORSE, right?”

Show of hands: how many of you knew at the time I would be eating those words?

Yeah, that’s what I figured.  ALL of you.

It’s not like I really believed this movie would be any GOOD, mind you.  I just didn’t think anything could possibly be WORSE than the original.  The plot!  The outfits!  The boring filler scenes on the dance floor!  The death scenes shot in the pitch black dark of invisibility!

But, as it turns out, not only can you can you be dumber than the original Prom Night, you can actually even be MORE BORING.

I mean, the original at least made an attempt to give us into the willies — first with the opening scene shot when all the characters were kids, the scene that sets the stage for what will happen to them the night of their prom years later.  That building with the broken windows — that building is just creepy, you know?  And then, flash-forward to senior year, and the day before the prom, everybody starts getting crank phone calls and finding stuff in their lockers and all that.  It may have been a cheesy 80’s horror-movie mood, but at least an attempt was made to SET a mood.

The remake, on the other hands, shoves us right into the prom itself just ten minutes into the picture, after an “And then I woke up!” scene (my favorite!) wherein the main character, Donna, recounts a recurring nightmare to her therapist.  Through her dream, we watch her mother die at the hands of Donna’s high school teacher, a guy named Fenton who had become infatuated with her and then progressed from pedophilic desire to full-on violent sociopathy.  Turns out it wasn’t just a dream — it really happened to Donna three years prior to the movie’s present day.  Fenton was caught right away, but, of course, it would hardly be a horror movie if the crazy psychopath stayed in prison.  So, three days before Donna’s senior prom, he escapes from a maximum security mental institution and then proceeds to kill everybody he encounters on his way back to Donna’s not-so-loving arms.

It sounds like a stock horror movie plot, so I should hardly complain, right?  But the thing is, I’ve just never found “crazy” all that compelling of a motive.  Sure, sometimes “crazy” is the only motive there is, but when you’re trying to tell a story, it’s about the least interesting one you can go with.  The original film had revenge as the motive, a more complicated motive heavy with hate and pain.

Here, the killer is just. . . nuts.  Nuts by itself is boring.

Second, Fenton kills lots and lots of people — for no reason whatsoever.   In the original, everybody who died had been involved in the original incident (or was making out with someone involved in the original incident, anyway).  Here, they die because, well, it wouldn’t be much of a horror movie if everybody made it to the sequel, right?  Again, boring.

And then third, the incompetence of the cops in this movie was just over-the-top with ridiculousness.  You mean to tell me Idris Elba learned nothing from his tenure on The Wire?  Sure, he was the bad guy then (Stringer Bell), but you’d think he would’ve picked up a few tricks from Dominic West.  Instead, his character in this movie, a homicide detective, makes just about every lame mistake you can think of.   *I* could’ve done a better job, and I don’t even know how to tell if the safety is off on a gun, for pity’s sake.

The only thing I did like about this movie was, surprisingly enough, Brittany Snow.  I don’t know much about her, and the only other thing I’d seen her in was Nip/Tuck (where she played a female skinhead, essentially — hardly endearing), but I actually enjoyed her in this.  For one thing, she’s got a normal physique, which is refreshing.  She’s not skinny as a twig and she’s not ridiculously pretty either.  And for another, she’s not a bad actress. Go figure.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to save this movie, which I started to skim through after about the 45-minute mark.  I suppose it’s possible I just missed where the killer confessed to his complicated motivations for all that slayage.  But somehow. . . I doubt it.  And barring even the slightest hint of emotional depth, however hokey (I don’t ask for much, y’all), I just didn’t really feel the need to watch all those people die for no real reason.  As bad as THIS is going to sound, they weren’t even good horror movie deaths — just standard torso stabbings, over in a flash every time.  No prolonged and creepy stalkings, no heads cut off and then rolled down a flight of stairs to a group of waiting friends, no one interrupted in flagrante, etc.

Yawnsville from start to finish, in a nutshell.

Okay, now, show of hands: how many of you are going to rent this even though I just panned it without mercy?

Yeah, that’s what I figured.  ALL of you.

You guys are awesome.

[Netflix me | Buy me]

Genre:  Horror, Crap
Cast:  Brittany Snow, Scott Porter, Dana Davis, Jonathan Schaech, Idris Elba

Tags: ,

12 Responses to “MOVIE: Prom Night (2008)”

  1. vjp Says:

    I’m testing your comments. Feel free to delete 🙂

  2. megwood Says:

    If anybody is having problems getting their comments to show up here, please email me at meg@megwood.com? I’m trying to figure out if there is a widespread problem, or an isolated one.

  3. Alisa Says:

    I can’t see myself watching this movie, not even my husband is interested is seeing it. Which is surprising since I had to set through the remake of When a Stranger Calls. Which was horrible, and it had a dream sequince in it also.

  4. Liz Says:

    Another test of your comments.

  5. Lizzie Says:

    That wasn’t me! (Liz) Was that you, Meg, or do we have an entirely new “Liz” to contend with? I thought I was like the Highlander – you know, “there can be only one!”

  6. megwood Says:

    Oh, that might’ve been the nice lady who was helping me do some testing (vjp above).

  7. Lizzie Says:

    Okay, should I stick with “Lizzie” now, or try to go back to “Liz?” I don’t mind being “Lizzie,” but I’m getting confused! I may try that “Prom Night” remake, just to see how bad it really is!

    BTW, I rented “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang,” and had to watch it twice, because they all talked so fast, I couldn’t understand anything! When I saw it again, with fans turned off, volume turned up, and STILL having to replay a few places, I got it a lot more, and thought it was very clever and funny. Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer were a good match – very funny, but they were so WIRED! (Like I never am!)

  8. megwood Says:

    Dude, turn on the captions next time (most DVDs have English captions, even if the movie is in English to begin with — for the hearing impaired)! Then you only have to watch it once and you won’t miss a single joke!

    You can be Lizzie or Liz — either should work now. Let me know if you have any more problems, toots!

  9. Lorraine Says:

    Meg, I’m with you on the subtitles (captions). I turn them on for nature/science shows so I can see the names of the beasts/plants/locations/etc. I turn them on for British shows because I’m not sure if it is the slang or the accents that baffle me. I love seeing their idioms. And I turn them on for “The Wire” because I don’t want to miss a word of those extraordinary scripts (and I have trouble with the Baltimore accents/slang also).

    But I’ve noticed that dvds of many British tv shows and low budget movies don’t provide subtitles 😦

  10. Lizzie Says:

    But … but … if I try to read the subtitles, I miss what’s going on visually! Sigh! I can’t win! I’m just going to have to turn up the volume, and lose extraneous noise (like fans). And if my husband tries to talk to me, I can a) ignore him, or b) hit the “pause” button!

    And BTW, what magic did you wreak to make my comments work again?

  11. megwood Says:

    It was a wonky spam filter problem — a bunch of non-spams got sent to spam, but then didn’t actually show UP in spam for several hours. Bizarro-world, as most worlds involving spam filters typically are.

    I had that problem with subtitles for a while myself, but eventually got good at seeing the whole screen as a unit, instead of seeing it as text plus movie. You could practice by turning on closed captions on your TV set while you watch normal stuff and see if your brain starts learning how to watch and read at the same time.

  12. Lizzie Says:

    I don’t think my brain can behave itself long enough to learn any new tricks! I find I’m having MORE trouble, not less, doing more than one thing at a time – and that has always been a problem for me. When I was little, and taking piano lessons, I would always learn one hand of a piece first, then the other, and THEN put both hand together. To read subtitles AND watch the action seems to me to be right up there with learning to speak Swahili! I’ll stick to making my husband read the subtitles for “Lost” and “Heroes” for me!

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