Brittany Snow - Donna Keppel
Johnathon Schaech - Richard Fenton
Idris Elba - Detective Winn
Dana Davis - Lisa Hines
Scott Porter - Bobby
Collins Pennie - Ronnie Heflin
Ming-Na - Dr. Elisha Crowe
Linden Ashby - Uncle Jack Turner
Year - 2008
Score - 0.5 Howls Outta 4
Donna Keppel (Brittany Snow) comes home one night to find that her family was murdered by Richard Fenton (Johnathon Schaech), a teacher who has developed an unhealthy obsession with Donna. Puppy love...sigh. Anyway, he's caught, tried, convicted due to insanity, and sentenced to be locked away at some maximum security [ha ha ha] mental hospital many miles away to stay far away from Donna.
Three years pass and Donna seems to be doing okay with her life. However she's constantly reminded of Fenton, especially since her psychiatrist (Ming-Na) reminds Donna that he'll always have a psychic and emotional control over her. Who gave this nut a license? Anyway, Donna is given anti-anxiety medication in order to remain focused on college and the rest of her future...like PROM! Gee, nothing bad can happen there, can it?
Anyway, Donna prepares for prom with her boyfriend Bobby (Scott Porter) by getting her dress and her hair done!
Like OMG! I hope someone doesn't wear the same dress! That would be so GOSSIP GIRL, yo!
While Donna prepares for prom, she doesn't know that Mr. Fenton has escaped from the MAXIMUM SECURITY mental hospital and is traveling back to see Donna again to...well, I don't know what he wants to do with Donna really. Obviously he doesn't realize that murder isn't a turn-on for teenage girls, but I'm not a teenage girl so I wouldn't know. Anyway, the local cops led by Detective Winn (Idris Elba) find out about Fenton's escape and try and come up with something to protect Donna and stop Fenton from finishing what he started three years ago. This is one prom Donna will never forget!
I have three words for PROM NIGHT:
WHAT THE F---!?
Let me start off by saying that PROM NIGHT 2008 is NOT a remake of PROM NIGHT 1980, starring Jamie Lee Curtis and her booty-shaking ass during that disco sequence. It may have the same name, a prom setting, and a killer, but other than that, everything's different. I wasn't expecting much out of this remake to begin with, since I'm still wondering why PROM NIGHT of all films even needs a remake. And after watching this film, I still have the same question because this movie is lame, lame, and uber-lame. And it's not even lame because it's a bad film. With a bad film, I would be able to bash it and entertain myself writing the review. But this film is worse than bad. It's LAZY. It just goes through the motions and uses every slasher movie cliche you've seen a million times before without any energy, suspense, or tension that makes those cliches work. How do I review a lazy film?
Now the entire film isn't all that lazy. The opening sequence where Donna finds Fenton murdering her family, especially her mother, was actually quite gripping. There's a point in the film where Donna and her mother's eyes meet before the mother is killed and it's quite creepy. The emotional impact is there and you actually feel sorry for Donna, even though you don't know her that well yet. Here am I thinking that this film will get better from an effective opening like this. But nope, doesn't happen. It's treated like some afterthought, as if director Nelson McCormick used the moment as a stylistic tool rather than something you could base the rest of the film off and create a pretty decent remake that wasn't needed to begin with. I also found the chase scene between Fenton and Lisa to actually be quite involved and intense. It's not the best sequence I've ever seen but it's the best I could see from this film.
The rest of the film, not so much. McCormick doesn't bother with suspense, tension, or even HORROR. The film is not scary. The film is very predictable. I mean gee, who's gonna live and who's gonna die? Hmmm. There's barely any character development, except for maybe Donna, the detective, Fenton, and Lisa and Ronnie. Other than making money, what's the point of this film? Even the ending was horrible, as it should have been a showdown between Donna and Fenton, but it totally gets turned around and takes away all emotional impact and build up the film needed to get to its resolution. I had absolutely nothing to chew on and spit out when it came to the horrible script/story.
I also didn't like the fact that the rating is PG-13. A slasher film being PG-13 is like watching Jenna Jameson have sex with her clothes on. IT DOESN'T WORK! Supernatural horror can be PG-13. Slashers are meant to be R rating because what do we want from slashers?
While you do get some blood and a nice shot of some throat getting slit, you don't get anything else. Everyone stays covered and the murders aren't even that graphic to be all that effective. Sure, HALLOWEEN would be considered PG-13 now, but at least it was intelligent enough to grip you with its story and characters. PROM NIGHT doesn't bother. At least some decent kills would have made this watchable. But it fumbles and fails like a virgin getting laid for the first time on prom night. Not something you're gonna want to remember for the rest of your life, that's for sure.
Another issue I had? The police's treatment of Fenton's escape. They were concerned for Donna's well being, yet didn't want to upset her with the news because she made so much progress since the murders. Um...how are you gonna protect her if you don't clue her in on what's happening? Don't you think Fenton is gonna go straight for her and she's better off knowing before hand so she can prepare herself? It's called common fuckin' sense. USE IT! It's like the cops didn't care and made really boneheaded decisions. Yes, I understand this is a film but some intelligence wouldn't hurt, ya know?
Nelson McCormick isn't a good director. He just took a camera, moved it around to shoot the actors, did what he thought was good editing, and released the film with his name attached. That's not directing. A director, especially for a horror movie, would want to create moments of fear and terror. He would want to create suspense and uncertainty. He would want us to care about the characters he's visually showing us, making us want them to live. But he doesn't do that, so he's fails. Even Uwe Boll creates more tension in his films and they mostly suck. Like I said, nothing describes this film more than "lazy". And I felt bored watching it.
The acting, on the other hand, was actually decent. Brittany Snow, who many of us know from the TV show AMERICAN DREAMS and the films JOHN TUCKER MUST DIE, THE PACIFIER, and HAIRSPRAY, is very good in the film. She hits all the emotional stuff and is actually a pleasure to watch onscreen from beginning to end. Her character was barely there but she did what she could with it and I appreciated it. Plus she's really cute. Someone has a crush...sigh. I'm hoping she does a much better film worthy of her talents because she's too good for this remake. Johnathon Schaech looked and talked creepy, but his character was so bland that he just came off as a generic nutjob who likes hunting pretty people and killing them. I had no emotional connection to the guy at all. Michael Myers, who doesn't even talk, has more personality than this dude just by breathing. That's pretty sad. Idris Elba, who I am a fan of from his work in 28 WEEKS LATER and DADDY'S LITTLE GIRLS, suffers from having a poorly written character. He should have looked like a hero but ended up looking foolish instead. It sucks because I like the guy a lot and he deserved better than this. Fire your agent, dude. Everyone else did what they were supposed to do, which wasn't all that much. They all try to create meat out of bones, and I can't fault anyone for that.
THE FINAL HOWL
PROM NIGHT 2008 is a rebounding failure. Sure the acting was decent and two scenes were watchable, but it just reminds you just how great those 80s slashers were back in the day. You'd think Hollywood would learn from those films and actually make a good one for THE HILLS' generation. Sure it'll make money [it was number one opening weekend, sigh] but you can't buy dignity, remembrance, or greatness with all the money in the world. Off to the WTF? Vault with you, PROM NIGHT. I'm sure Nelson McCormick will bring another film inside with his next film, the remake of THE STEPFATHER. Damn, I think I'm gonna need a bigger vault.