Movie Review: Worst Horror Movie of the Decade?
Director: Nelson McCormack
Cast: Brittany Snow, Scott Porter, Jessica Stroup, Johnathon Schaech, Dana Davis, Collins Pennie, Idris Alba
Would you believe me if I told you that the original Scary Moviewas more frightening than this debacle? Yet another entry in the "are you kidding?" hall of shame, Prom Night is an egregiously awful remake of the 1981 splatter film. It shuns aside the revenge motive for the killer in that film and turns the nutball in this film into a creepy high school teacher (Johnathon Schaech) who grows a little too fond of one of his students (Brittany Snow).
The movie opens with the guy killing off her entire family to show his love for her (yeah, because women dig that sort of thing). She comes home right in the middle of the rampage, hides under a bed, and watches him as he stabs her mother to death. Three years later, the girl -- named Donna Keppel -- is getting all dressed up and ready for her senior prom, yet unbeknownst to her and her friends is the fact that the killer has escaped from the mental hospital and is now on his way to her prom to wreck some blood-less havoc.
The original Prom Night was rated R and contained scenes of bloody violence. This remake, on the other hand, is rated PG-13, and is about as bloodless as an episode of Murder, She Wrote. Is it bad that a horror movie focuses more on suspense rather than gore? Not at all; that's actually something I encourage. Yet Prom Nighthas not a single scare or original idea to compensate for its lack of dripping viscera. Sometimes directors throw out some inventive kills to distract us from the lack of a solid story or general tension, but not here. This is a full frontal assault of incompetence.
Rife with glaring continuity errors (one girl gets her throat slashed, yet when the police find her body, she hasn't a scratch on her) and cheap "boo" moments (complete with the obligatory musical sting), and hampered by Nelson McCormack’s dull as dishwater direction (when hero cop Alba races to Donna's house in the climax, it honestly looked as though his car never went over 30 miles an hour), the thing that really sinks Prom Night is the fact that there is nobody here worth giving a hoot about.
Blame screenwriter J.S. Cardone for jumping right into the titular event by the ten minute mark. There is never any attempt to develop these characters, and everyone knows that for a movie like this, if you don't care about the characters, you can't care whether they live or die, and there can be no suspense.
If there is one thing scary about this movie, it's the performance turned in by Scott Porter. To call him robotic is seriously an understatement (Arnold Schwarzenegger had more personality in the Terminatormovies than this guy), Porter is as lifeless as the string of corpses the killer leaves in his path. His line readings are so bland that when his character picks up Donna for the prom, sees her for the first time in her dress, and remarks "You look beautiful!" the results are likely to leave you rolling down the aisle in laughter. Everyone else in the movie is terrible as well, but none of them are as amazingly awful as Porter.
There isn't a lot I remember about the original film; the only thing I know is that it had Jamie Lee Curtis and Leslie Nielsen and nearly every person who saw it despised it. I can't remember ever hating the movie (however, I did see it like ten years ago); certainly it's a whole lot better than this stinker.
Prom Night is one of those rare films that felt like the filmmakers were trying to cause the audiences to suffer. Director Eric Valette (who helmed the excruciating One Missed Call remake) can rest a little easier tonight, knowing that he's no longer responsible for making the worst horror movie of 2008.
Final Grade: no stars (out of ****)