When I was a junior in high school, one of my friends bet me twenty dollars that I couldn’t make a cake, without mix, using only Hostess products and items in my mother’s refrigerator. I drove to the store, picked up Twinkees, Cupcakes, and Suzi Qs, threw ‘em all in a big mixing bowl, and went to town for twenty minutes. I added eggs, a little flour, vegetable oil, a smidgen of milk, and some butter and plopped my concoction into the oven. Forty-five minutes later, my friends and I took it out, grabbed a fork, and dove in. We all marveled at how bizarrely average it was–neither good nor bad–just kinda there. You see, cobbling together a laundry list of delicious ingredients doesn’t guarantee a tasty result. Just ask anyone who rooted for the 2002 Sacramento Kings or the poor bastards who wasted their time on my cake.
Prom Night isn’t so much a movie as a series of scenes from other films which the screenwriters glued together to resemble something movie-esque. A boyfriend and girlfriend are apprehensive about going to different colleges. A stalker is sent away to jail and escapes. A girl has recurring dreams, which sometimes turn out to be real and sometimes turn out to be fantasy. Creepy music plays almost constantly. You’ve seen all of this before in other, better motion pictures. That’s not to say Prom Night is the worst film ever made. It’s not. For a movie to be worthy of that heinous moniker, it would need to do more than just exist. Like my cake, Prom Night is edible, it just doesn’t affect the audience positively or negatively.
Fifteen year old Donna (Brittany Snow) is your typical pretty-cute-for-the-movies but a bombshell in real life fifteen year old. Then a young teacher, creepily played by the lead singer of the Wonders, begins stalking her and does some Charles Manson shit to her entire family–in front of her. He’s sent away to jail but conveniently breaks out in time to ruin her Senior Prom. She also has an underdeveloped jock of a boyfriend (Scott Porter) and a best friend with gigantic breasts (Dana Davis). Two cops without a shred of back story are given too much screen time, and an aunt and uncle show up, if for no other reason than to let viewers know Lauren Davis from Boston Public is still alive and working.
The Prom itself resembles an episode of My Super Sweet Sixteen, complete with a red carpet outside the posh hotel banquet room the dance takes place in. All of the main characters (sans the cops and Harry Senate’s girlfriend) book a suite on the third floor and spend most of their time traipsing back-and-forth. This provides plenty of opportunities for the filmmakers to creep the audience out with through-the-stairwell-cameras and which-portion-of-the-suite-is-he-in mysteries.
It would be easy to chastise everyone involved in this project for producing a film utterly and completely void of even the slightest original thought, but in all honesty, it’s not their fault. If I’m forced to assign blame, I’m sending all of those evil thoughts in your direction. That’s right. You, the paying customer. Outside of The Orphanage and a handful of thought-provoking horror movies created since 2000, everything else has been recycled shit, sewn together and Febreezed so the more ignorant viewers don’t notice the pungent odor. It’s time we, as a society, start demanding more of horror movies than scantily-clad barely legals screaming at regurgitated maniacs. If you want a superficial amalgamation to go see with your girlfriend, take her to Prom Night. You’ll probably have a decent time and never think about it again. If you want to see a piece of art that pushed the genre forward even an inch, skip this neutral piece of cake.