Okay, let’s get one thing straight right off the bat; the original “Prom Night” was, is, and will always be a terrible film. It’s a scare-free, silly mess of ‘70’s era clichés, set to a disco beat, and filmed through what looks like a quart of Vaseline smeared between two sheets of wax paper. If any “classic” horror film was ripe for a remake, it was this one. Now, that’s not to say that this new, 2008 model Prom Night is good film – it isn’t – but, when compared to the original, it’s Citizen Kane.
Donna Keppel (Brittany Snow) witnessed her family’s death at the hands of her obsessed teacher, Richard Fenton (Jonathon Schaech) three years earlier, but, now that the killer is safely locked up nearly half-a-continent away, Donna’s finally able to get on with her life. On the night of her prom, however, Fenton escapes, and, while Donna and her buddies are boogying the night away in one of those proms that only happen in the movies, Detective Winn (Idris Elba) is watching over Donna on the off-chance that Fenton comes back to claim his unrequited love. Which, of course, he does. If he didn’t, there wouldn’t be a movie.
Prom Night isn’t going to win any awards, nor will this relatively “soft” horror film (the Blu-ray is unrated, but it’s still a PG-13 film at heart) win over any converts from the Eli Roth school of grue and gore, but, let’s face it; the tweens this film is marketed at will eat this stuff right up. It’s like THE HILLS meets THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, but even more outlandish in its execution. The sadist in me wanted all of these kids to die, especially Donna, as she is quite possibly the shallowest example of a “trauma survivor” I’ve ever witnessed. It’s as if the death of her family held no more weight to her than breaking the heel of one her Ferragamos. Her friends are equally self-absorbed teen caricatures, seemingly modeled after the ubiquitous tabloid brats that have taught a generation that they, too, can be famous as long as they have a video camera with a night vision setting, and a complete and utter lack of anything resembling moral fiber.
The few positive things I can muster about this new Prom Night include a suitably creepy performance by Schaech as the killer, Fenton, and an impressive job by director Nelson McCormick and cinematographer, Checco Varese, who manage to make this movie look exceptionally good despite how bad it really is. Oh, and I can also say that this Prom Night is better than the original, but that’s like saying cancer is better than A.I.D.S.
As should be expected, the audio/video presentation of the film is top notch, with lush, deep blacks; and vibrant colors. Detail is exceptional, and, probably much to the chagrin of the young actors and actresses, nearly every wrinkle, crag, and blemish on their faces leaps off the screen in nearly three-dimensional quality.
Audio is quite nice, with an enveloping surround mix and an overall pleasing aural experience generated by the Dolby True HD 5.1 soundtrack. Music thumps and vibrates the subs, screams are appropriately shrill and trebly, and dialogue is crystal clear. Overall, an excellent presentation for a bad movie.
Extras include four Behind-the-Scenes featurettes, an “alternate” ending (which is nearly identical to the ending they used, save for a “freeze-and-fade-out” effect), deleted scenes, a short gag-reel, and a director and cast commentary. The extras are all presented in standard definition, save for the Blu-ray exclusive PiP storyboard track, and the potential for future supplements via BD Live. HD extras are limited to trailers for various Sony releases.
The bottom line is that when making a movie called Prom Night, you’re target audience is going to be the teenagers of that particular era. In the seventies, the kids liked feathered hair, disco, bellbottoms, and vans with wizards airbrushed on the sides. In the ‘noughties, kids like cellphones, “bling”, faceless pop music, and Paris Hilton. If you, yourself, like any one (or, god forbid, all) of the aforementioned things, chances are you will enjoy Prom Night. If, however, you have the ability to count without using your fingers, realize that LOL is an abbreviation and not an actual word, and know that the true measure of a human being is more than just the amount of friends they have on MySpace, you’ll probably want to skip this one.