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Formulaic Prom Night Provides More Laughs Than Terror

  • Christa Banister Contributing Writer
  • Updated Aug 22, 2008
Formulaic <i>Prom Night</i> Provides More Laughs Than Terror

DVD Release Date:  August 19, 2008
Theatrical Release Date:  April 11, 2008
Rating:  PG-13 (for violence and terror, underage drinking, language)
Genre:  Suspense/Horror/Thriller
Run Time:  88 min.
Director:  Nelson McCormick
Actors:  Brittany Snow, Scott Porter, Jessica Stroup, Dana Davis, Collins Pennie, Johnathon Schaech, Scott Porter

You know a horror movie is excruciatingly bad when:

  • a)  You’re laughing and are fully aware that’s not what the screenwriter had in mind
  • b)  The film’s bad acting makes the cast from The Hills look like potential Oscar winners and
  • c)  You’re not even remotely scared when the psychopathic killer shows up at the prom to slash his way through the momentous occasion.

On the upside, if you’re squeamish about copious amounts of blood, well, there’s little to worry about there in Prom Night, a remake of the campy 1980 horror flick by the same name. For anyone who has actually seen the original, there’s surprisingly little resemblance between the two besides the shared moniker and the fact there’s a serial killer on the loose as a bunch of mostly unlikable high school kids dance (and eventually scream) the night away.

This time around, the story centers around Donna (Brittany Snow), a ditzy, Barbie-ish girl with a disturbing past. During her freshman year, one of her teachers (Johnathon Schaech) develops a rather obsessive crush on her (although for the record, we never know why since the writer forgot that essential bit of character development) and winds up breaking into her house and killing her entire family. In fact, Donna’s home hiding under the bed for part of the chaos and is plagued by nightmares years later after watching her mother get slaughtered.

But with the killer safely thousands of miles away in jail, a great boyfriend (Scott Porter) and her senior prom coming up, life appears to be on the upswing three years later for Donna. Or so she thinks (cue creepy music). See, three days before the prom, her teacher has miraculously escaped from prison and has planned to be reunited with “the love of his life.” Of course, like most horror movies, the police are three steps behind the proceedings and aren’t even aware that he’s on the loose until Donna’s already smack dab in harm’s way.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what happens next, and the worst part of all is that you likely won’t care because you’ve barely gotten to know any of the characters well enough to have a vested interest. And unlike Scream or even the Scary Movie parodies, there’s not enough entertainment value (campy or otherwise) in Prom Night to make up for the deficit.

In fact charm, pacing, and the most crucial factor, chill-up-your-spine suspense, are all in short supply for this by-the-numbers remake. The film’s director, Nelson McCormick, comes from a strictly television pedigree and it shows, for Prom Night is way too tame to make any kind of lasting impact, psychological or otherwise. So what the viewer is left with is a series of horror movie clichés that don’t make for a provocative, or even entertaining, movie.

Chances are there was far more drama at your own high school prom (or in a cheesy Lifetime made-for-TV movie) than in all 88 minutes of Prom Night.


  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Plenty of underage drinking on display.
  • Language/Profanity:  Multiple instances of profanity, including instances where the Lord’s name is taken in vain.
  • Sex/Nudity:  Some kissing and instances where the main characters talk about “getting laid” since it’s prom night.
  • Violence/Gore:  For a horror film, there’s little violence and blood to show for it. Dead bodies are shown, some a bit bloodied, others are not. Most of the killing, save for one slashing, is done offscreen.