Spring and love are in the air. Graduation is in sight. What better way to commemorate the past four years of high school than the prom. As a rite of passage for most teenagers, prom night is not to be missed, unless of course you are considering to see the movie.After watching her mother be murdered three years earlier, Donna Keppel (Brittany Snow) just wants to have one night of teenage normalcy. But on the night of her senior prom, sadistic killer Richard Fenton, (Johnathon Schaech) who killed her family, escapes from a mental institution to terrorize Donna further as he picks off her friends in an attempt to get closer to her. This plot seems standard for most slasher flicks, but “Prom Night” (2008) doesn’t have any redeeming qualities that other slasher flicks have.
While the quality of slasher flicks has been declining since their conception, the genre can be fun, entertaining and even inspired. With the basic groundwork for the run of the mill slasher flick, Director Nelson McCormick and writer J.S. Cardone should have been able to make a better movie.
It is supposed to be a slasher flick, yet most of the slashing takes place offscreen. As far as violence and gore go, “Prom Night” is one of the most disappointing movies I have ever seen. Violence and gore do not make a movie scary; no, these elements make movies entertaining. After being put through the torture of watching these characters celebrate their prom, I would have liked to see them get the horrific deaths they deserved. However, in order to achieve a PG-13 rating in an attempt to make more money, the film is devoid of any sort of massacre we have grown accustomed to.
Perhaps it is due to the lack of other classic slasher flick qualities that “Prom Night” does not have the gruesome deaths. In the horror genre, there are certain activities that teenagers should take part in to be deserving of their deaths, such as drinking, doing drugs and having sex. It goes without saying that if a character does any of the above mentioned, he/she will most likely miss the final scene. Yet, there is no sex, no drug use and only one sip of an alcoholic drink. In the way the movie unfolds, one can say that “Prom Night” is an unconventional slasher flick, but did the filmmakers ever consider that the conventions work in not boring the audience?
Up and coming starlet Snow has absolutely no screen presence. Her performance was flat and she lacks the ability to show any emotion.
Donna watched her mother get murdered, and Snow’s idea of conveying grief, terror and even excitement is to cover her mouth with her hands. As far as launching her movie career goes, it would seem that Snow made a wise choice, as slasher flicks are notorious for launching the careers of many untalented actresses.
The supporting cast was just as bad as the lead. All of the actors had at one time been teenagers, so I have a hard time understanding why it is difficult to give a convincing performance as a teenager. The acting from these young stars was just pathetic. The only actor worth mentioning is Brianne Davis in the role of Crissy Lynn. While her role was very small, and therefore gave little opportunity to be a disaster, she was at least convincing.
The one positive result of this horrible movie is the return of Johnathon Schaech. Allow me to refresh your memory as to who he is: Schaech skyrocketed to fame in the role of Jimmy Mattingly in “That Thing You Do,” delivering lines such as “I quit. I quit. I quit.” As a sadistic killer Fenton, Schaech is a little creepy, but not at all scary. His limited screen time did not give him much opportunity to convince us of him being a crazed escapee with a sick infatuation, but I am willing to let that slide. I am just happy that he is still getting acting jobs.
This review was originally going to be an irate diatribe on how “Prom Night” (1980) never should have been remade. I do not support the remaking of any film, especially if Rob Zombie is directing. However, after I saw the 2008 “Prom Night,” I could not find it in me to call it a remake of a classic slasher flick. To call McCormick’s “Prom Night” a remake, would be to sully the original “Prom Night” and all who contributed to the film.
If you enjoy bad acting, worse dialogue and wasting your money, then see “Prom Night” and relive the best night of your life. But if you want to see a slasher flick done right, rent the original. “Prom Night” is justification for anyone to skip senior prom.
Allison Hurwitz is a fourth-year majoring in English with a minor in film criticism. She can be reached at AH592893@wcupa.edu.