It’s slim pickings at Australian cinemas at the moment, and I sure chose the wrong flick to end my recent big screen drought.
Prom Night is possibly a remake of the 1980 film starring Jamie Lee Curtis. I say possibly because aside from the setting and the genre, it doesn’t seem to have too much in common. It’s apparently ‘inspired by’ that film, but there is no mention of it in the credits. I haven’t seen the ‘original’ but from what I know it isn’t held in the same high regard as, say, the original Halloween or Wes Craven’s early work. I’m almost certain, however, that the 2008 version is worse.
There is really nothing to recommend here. The film is competently executed – I mean in the technical sense – but that’s about it. There’s no clever gimmick, no interesting backstory, and no exciting set pieces. There aren’t even any gruesome kills (for those who enjoy that sort of thing), and the lack of splatter makes it very clear that they were aiming for an M (or PG-13) rated film.
It takes a moment to get over the establishing scenes, with all the talk of Donna’s (Brittany Snow) upcoming senior prom, and how this is one of the most important nights of her life, how she’ll remember it forever… etcetera, etcetera. We get to see her all dressed up, witness her boyfriend Bobby (Scott Porter) gush at seeing her at the top of the stairs, and of course see her attempt to curb the long-term anxiety she suffers as a consequence of having her whole family knifed three years ago.
Once we get to the ridiculously extravagant setting for the prom itself, there’s a killer on the loose who seems to take an awfully long time getting close to his objective. I can’t explain how truly banal this movie is. It isn’t even stifled by cliché, apart from a heroine who screams whenever someone appears behind her, and even – in one case – at a lamp. There’s nothing to make the film remotely interesting, apart from a handy wardrobe that makes the one leading to Narnia seem realistic.
The characterisation is next to nil, the backstory is pathetic, and it constantly feels like we’re in a studio, rather than an actual hotel. Idris Elba is the only performer I recognised, and he certainly is having a hard time making his way in Hollywood, between The Reaping and this.
It’s astounding to realise that we often have to wait months after US release dates to see films here in Australia, and yet we got to be the first in the world to see Prom Night. If you’ve never in your life seen a horror film, you might find this one occasionally scary. Actually, no. That isn’t true.Rating: