There’s nothing I could say to anyone that would change their preconceived notions about PROM NIGHT. Then again, if I had set out to positively change them with this review, I wouldn’t actually have anything to say. PROM NIGHT is exactly what you thought it would be, maybe even a little worse, and yet, I laughed through most of it.
PROM NIGHT is a remake-in-name-only, as the plot has nothing in common with the original, except that a good chunk of the film has someone stalking a handful of teens at a senior prom. There is no accidental death in the beginning of the film, no mysterious killer, no reveal at the end and, because of all those missing elements, no suspense. In the remake, Donna (Brittany Snow) has been traumatized by the death of her family at the hands of an obsessive teacher, Mr. Fenton (Johnathon Schaech). As Donna and her friends arrive at prom, they have no idea that Mr. Fenton broke out of prison three days earlier and has a room down the hall from them at their hotel.
A big part of why I don’t think the film works is because of the killer. Within the first ten to fifteen minutes, you know who he is and whats going to happen the rest of the movie. The whole film is spelled out for you in the first act, which leads me to PROM NIGHT’s biggest fault: it needed a whole new script. Preferably, one with atmosphere and tension that doesn’t feel like a fourth draft of something a few middle schoolers threw together one weekend.
The killer reminded me of Michael Myers in Rob Zombie’s Halloween, as he just randomly kills people for no reason, despite the fact that it has absolutely no bearing on the plot whatsoever. Mr. Fenton’s whole reason for being at the prom was to find Donna. Killing maids and other students has nothing to do with anything in the killer’s agenda. Their deaths aren’t anything that will please gore hounds (this is PG-13, after all) and they’re fairly predictable. Was it the “have something happen every 15 minutes to keep the audience’s attention” rule that propelled director Nelson McCormick to keep this in the film? I sure as hell can’t think of any other reason.
If you’re anything like me (which I suspect some of you reading this are), despite all of its shortcomings, you will laugh quite a bit. And, consequently, you will enjoy certain aspects of the film for all the wrong reasons. The dialogue is horribly laughable, the acting is extremely wooden and the lapses in logic make Van Helsing look like a masterpiece. It’s almost like McCormick made this film so that it could be picked apart very easily by anyone with half a brain. Elevators work when a fire alarm is pulled (most hotels disable theirs). A large group of cops and a SWAT team let the killer walk right past them because he shaved, which is probably the oddest disguise to work since Clark Kent took off his glasses to become Superman. And, my favorite, people get stabbed to death (excessively in some scenes) and little to no blood is found on the corpses or around the body. I know this is a PG-13 movie but I would have preferred them not show me the toned down crime scenes. It just makes the effects department look lazy. Either Fenton is Mr. Clean in disguise or he got his serial killer training from Dexter. At this point, it’s really a toss-up.
As I’m sure you gathered from the trailer, PROM NIGHT isn’t a film that was made for horror fans. It’s a film that’ll make a quick buck during the slow box-office month of April and then be forgotten a few months after the obligatory unrated DVD is released sometime later this year.