If there is one thing I hate about the movie industry today, it is the desire to reinvent the ideas of yesterday - especially in the horror genre. In the last few years, we've seen remakes or reinventions of horror movies like Halloween, The Amityville Horror, The Hitcher, The Hills Have Eyes, The Omen, The Fog, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - most, if not all, are inferior to its original. Whether the driving force behind these reinventions is a large studio trying to rake in the money or an arrogant director and writers who believes his or her ideas trump all, it's a bad idea.
In 1980, the reigning Queen of Scream, Jamie Lee Curtis, starred in a film called Prom Night. It was about a masked killer stalking the four teenagers responsible for his child's death six years earlier while playing hide-and-seek. Of course, the psychotic killer seeks revenge on the night of their high school's senior prom. Now, 27 years and three sequels later, we have a brand new Prom Night, which has no ties to the original besides the name and the idea of a killer knocking of teens one-by-one at their senior prom.
Brittany Snow plays Donna Keppel, a troubled high school senior who's been living with her aunt and uncle since witnessing the gruesome murders of her parents and brother, at the hands of an obsessive former teacher, Richard Fenton (Johnathon Schaech), a few years earlier. With Fenton locked away in an insane asylum thousands of miles away (he was found not guilty at trial by reason of insanity), and the assistance of therapy sessions and medication, a seemingly happy Donna is ready to attend her senior prom - one of the last big moments she has with her closest friends Claire (Jessica Stroup), Lisa (Dana Davis), Michael (Kelly Blatz), Ronnie (Collins Pennie), and boyfriend, Bobby (Scott Porter), before she goes off to Brown University. Well, that is until she's at her senior prom and, unbeknownst to her, the man who is supposed to be locked up in a padded cell thousands of miles away is now in the same hotel of her prom. What are the chances?
The story for Prom Night is actually better than anything I expected: A teacher so obsessed with one of his students that he keeps binders full of her pictures at his house and eventually kills her family just to try and be with her actually sounds like a decent start for a horror flick. Unfortunately, the only thing scary about Prom Night is the fact that there is not one ugly or mildly unattractive student attdending Bridgeport High School. It's like every single student in the school is the result of a cloning experiment trying to create the largest group of teens never to hear the word Stridex before. I mean, seriously, I know there are a ton of beautiful people out there, but what are the chances they all go to the same high school? Where's the fat kid standing next to the buffet eating cake and drinking punch all night? Where's the nerdy kid the jocks constantly pick on for wearing huge glasses and a bow tie? Where's the average looking people that these people are always friends with? There is no place on Earth, with the exception of the Playboy mansion, that has this many good looking people in one place. It's almost as sickening as the execution of this extremely predictable, nearly unwatchable 89 minute slasher flick. And the hotel where the prom was held and many of the kids had rooms? What teenager has the money to spend on a room there? It's like watching an episode of MTVs "My Super Sweet 16" from hell.
Despite the creepily beautiful cast and poor execution of a story with potential, Snow manages to stand out. I don't know if it's just the fact that she's a stunning blonde with incredible blue eyes, or the fact that I was actually impressed with her acting ability, but if it weren't for her, I would have slashed my own throat rather than waiting to see if Schaech winds up slashing hers. Besides her, there really isn't anyone worth watching and the fact that she was able to impress me along the lines in this snoozefest is saying something about her ability. She truly deserves a lot better than this.
The guys in the film on the other hand, are all pretty boy jocks who walk around like they are God's gift to planet Earth, while smiling that normal prom night grin that says, "Yeah, I've got a condom in my pocket and I plan on using it." The women, besides Snow, seem to just show up in the lowest cut dress they can find to make the, "Oh my god, I'm doing the Baywatch run before I die" routine work more effectively.
Schaech has very scary eyes, but is extremely boring with his "I wanna walk like Mike Myers" strut, and his, "I'm gonna stab you with a pearing knife" attitude. There is nothing interesting about this killer. I get it, he's obsessed with Donna. I get it, he's willing to kill for her love. I get it, he likes stabbing people. But, why is this killer different from any other killer in any other horror film? What makes him scary? He's predictable and not exactly menacing, he's just a friggin' lunatic. In successful horror films, you always feel the presence of the killer. Here, it's easy to guess when and where he will attack, even if it's not provoked. He may be a cold-blooded killer who kills for his love of a minor, but it doesn't make him scary, it just makes him a psycho with a knife.
In the end, Prom Night will be pretty much like your very own prom night experience - minus the dude chasing you with a knife. There is a lot of excitement before the event - you buy your dress or rent your tuxedo, plan who will be in your limo, and decide whose house you will take pictures at beforehand. During the event, there's a lot of dancing, sneaking the occasional sip of liquor out of the flask one of your friends brought in, girls going to the bathroom in large groups, and numerous interruptions from the adult supervisors you wish weren't there. But, in the end, you realize that all the money you spent on the prom is not worth it because it doesn't last all that long, you weren't crowned prom king or queen, and you get screwed at the end of the night.
Apparently, Sony Pictures planned on at least one person surviving Prom Night because there are a ton of special features.The last thing the survivor of any bloody attack wants to do is relive the nightmare they were witness to. So why put the survivors of Prom Night through more of the cold-blooded, heartless actions of the director and screenwriters? Well, because they can, and people are stupid - like people in horror movies that run into the darkest, quietest places when they are being followed by some maniac with no motive.
Speaking of motives, I am trying to figure out what the motive was to put a two minute gag reel - yes, a gag reel - on the DVD for a horror film. I am not saying that funny things don't happen on sets of horror films - like knocking over a lamp while you were only supposed to bump into it, or screwing up your lines when the cops tell you the psycho killer that killed your niece's family is on the loose again, or the ever hilarious tripping while jumping out of the closet to kill someone - but do we need to see this? Does the studio really want you to see this? As if things in the movie didn't look bad enough?
For those who want to relive Prom Night and all its glory, try the audio commentary with director Nelson McCormick, Brittany Snow and Johnathon Schaech. As much as I like Snow, and believe Schaech to be a talented actor given the task of trying to add something to a killer that is about as scary as a pony, the last thing I want to hear is what they were thinking about when they shot certain scenes. I think I'd rather take a bath with electrical appliances.
Another baffling feature is a 25 second alternate ending, which you can watch with or without commentary from the director and cast. First of all, what kind of commentary can you give in 25 seconds that will describe anything worthwhile? Second, when the first ending already sucks, why make an alternate ending that sucks even more? It is basically the same ending only instead of zooming away from the house, it freezes on Snow's face, which is filled with tears, as you hear Schaech's voice in the background. The only funny thing about this is if you turn on the commentary and you hear Snow say, "I am so glad you guys didn't use this version," even though she says she doesn't know why. My guess: Her makeup was messed up from crying and she has a disgusted look on her face - it's kind of like she just watched Prom Night.
If you're in the mood to watch more stuff that never made it into the film, watch the five deleted scenes, with or without audio commentary. Honestly, I can't tell the difference between what is or is not in the film, it all looks the same to me. The scene called, "Watch Donna Dance," was in the film at least six times. The cop watches Donna dance, the creepy killer watches Donna dance, we all watch Donna dance. She's dancing, with a guy, and my life sucks. Just let me watch Donna dance ... alone.
"Bridgeport High Vikings Video Yearbook," is another useless feature. It's already in the film, has corny music to go along with it, and truly makes no sense to pull out as a feature, especially when most of the kids seen in the video are never seen on film. However, in "A Night to Remember: The Making of Prom Night," you can watch all of the people that were in the film - or involved in making the film - talk about their accomplishments (or lack thereof) with Prom Night.
In "Profile of a Killer," executive producer/writer J.S. Cardone says that the killer in the film is normal from the exterior, but "like all of us, has ... a kink." The director says it's important for the viewer to hear a creepy biology's "passion" for his 17 or 18-year-old student. It's amazing that when these people are not filming, they know exactly what is important, yet when the cameras are on, they're clueless. Yes, it is nice to see things from the killer's perspective, but the only time we ever see that is when he's hiding in a closet. You think we get the killers perspective by him telling the police that he loves Donna and belongs with her, or he says, "We belong together," while holding a knife to her neck? What ever happened to e-cards or a heart-shaped box of chocolates? Too old-fashioned?
"Gothic Spaces: Creating the Pacfic Grand Hotel" is another mind-boggling feature. There is nothing remotely gothic about the hotel other than the lighting. Outside the hotel, all you see is a Hollywood-like entrance with a red carpet and bright lights. On the inside, it is a massive hotel that looks fairly modern. Even the director says he wants the hotel to look "sort of gothic." Well, if sort of gothic is what he wants, call the feature "Sort of Gothic Spaces." You only have to watch seconds of these features to discover the fact that these people have no idea what they're talking about, or what they want on film - if they did, they'd be making good movies.
Besides the theatrical trailer, a TV spot and some previews, the only feature remaining is "Prom Night Photo Album: Real Prom Stories from the Cast," where Brittany Snow shares that she went to prom on TV - meaning she's never been to an actual prom, which makes for a great story. Another cast member shares that he went to six proms. Dana Davis talks about how she came up with lies to get out of going to proms. Seriously, why have these features? It's not like we're going to hear any good stories. The truth is, we want to hear the juicy stuff, we're a tabloid culture. Tell us about how you snorted coke off the hood of your French teacher's car. Tell us how you got so drunk, you threw up while making out with your boyfriend or girlfriend in the backseat of the limo. Give me dirt. Tell me about how you watched the anorexic girl from your grade make out with one of the bus boys who was just fishing through the garbage cans in search of a fork he dropped in there with the leftover salmon. If I wanted the Mickey Mouse version of things, I'd rent High School Musical.