Newest Review: ... had a crush on Donna.) But it's okay because he's safely locked up now and she's just about come to terms with all that now. No wait, the... more
The best night of her life?
Prom Night (Unrated) (DVD)
Member Name: sunmeilan
Prom Night (Unrated) (DVD)
Advantages: Fast-moving, not too long
Disadvantages: Same old horror
Senior high school student Donna is looking forward to her prom night. Attending with boyfriend Bobby, as well as best friends Claire and Lisa, she hopes it will signify a new start after the horrible occurrences of the past. A teacher from her school who developed a crush on her broke into her home and murdered her parents and brother while she hid under the bed. Now living with her aunt and uncle, she has recurring nightmares. All seems to go smoothly at the prom until Claire has a bust up with her boyfriend and escapes upstairs to the hotel room they are all sharing. At the same time, the police officer in charge of Donna's case discovers that her killer has escaped. Can he warn Donna before it is too late?
Brittany Snow plays Donna and is actually pretty good. One problem I have with horrors is that often there is virtually no characterisation and so when people start to die, I can't really bring myself to care very much. However, we get to see what happened to Donna at the beginning of the film and how she has suffered since, with her nightmares and all, and she left an impact on me. I don't think Snow is going to win any awards for her acting, but she certainly could have been an awful lot worse and she did what she had to do well. Her friends, Claire and Lisa, played by Jessica Stroup and Dana Davis were less impressive, but then they didn't have particularly large parts and they were certainly adequate enough.
Richard Fenton plays Johnathon Schaech, the escaped killer. There is no attempt to make him a sympathetic character; in fact, we find out nothing about his background or the reasons for his behaviour. He did look creepy, but that's about all I can say for him. Again though, it's a fair performance and he did exactly what he needed to. The only other actor worth noting is Scott Porter, who plays Bobby, Donna's boyfriend. His terror when he discovers that Donna may be in danger is touching and I thought they had great chemistry together. For a small role, he did a good job.
The story is not a new one. It is, in fact, deeply unoriginal, and has been done scores of times before - and not just because it is very loosely based on the 1980 film of the same name starring Jamie Lee Curtis. Having watched Black Christmas and House on Sorority Row recently, I expected there to be a lot of similarities, and there most definitely are. Then again, I didn't find it as tedious as I expected - mainly because I liked the character of Donna. In many films of this genre, the victims are nasty pieces of work who deserve some kind of comeuppance. However, here, Donna certainly didn't deserve to die and neither did any of her friends. For me, this made the film that much more watchable.
The special effects are reasonably good. There is a lot of blood and stabbing going on and it is certainly realistic. It isn't, however, as graphic as it could be. Towards the end, one of the victims is found dead and we get a glimpse of a possible slashed throat, but the cameras certainly do little more than suggest what happened. From this point of view, the rating of 15 is about right. For parents concerned about what their teenagers may be watching, apart from the gore, there is also a lot of drinking and suggestions of sex.
I thought the atmosphere was well built up. There was always a sense of foreboding, initially because we catch a glimpse of Donna's nightmares and because she is always looking over her shoulder. Then the hotel is used as a kind of haunted house - once the characters leave the crowded ballroom and move upstairs, the corridors seem wide and empty, as though anything could happen at any time. Filmed in an actual hotel, The Pacific Grand Hotel, the setting was well chosen and I think director Nelson McCormick did a good job of setting it up.
There are a number of extras with the DVD. The first is a behind the scenes look at the production of the film. This involves a lot of interviews with the cast members and is vaguely interesting, but nothing special. The same goes for the next extra. The profile of a killer discusses how the killer's character was pieced together by the writer - mainly as a result of research of other serial killers like Ted Bundy. However, I found it very simplistic and amateur. The next extra is about the setting, which I did find interesting - although much of that was down to the hotel itself rather than the interviews with the production cast. Finally, there's an unnecessary section on real prom stories from the cast and a selection of trailers.
On the whole, I thought this film was reasonable. It has been almost universally panned elsewhere though - there is a rating of 3.6 out of 10 on imdb.com, with people calling it the worst film of 2008. I would suggest that, if you enjoy the genre, you should give it a go - I don't think it's as bad as all that. I have most definitely seen far worse films. Recommended, to fans of horror, but rent, don't buy. Three stars out of five.
The DVD is available from play.com for £5.
Running time: 89 minutes
Summary: It's been universally panned - but I liked it.