You can’t lose your virginity twice: Prom Night (2008)

A plague on this kind of film. There’s nothing less imaginative or original, and dare I say soulless, than this shiny American remake trend. Having worked their way through classic films, and less than classic films, it was only inevitable that they’d turn their jaundiced gaze on those lower ranked horror movies. As Prom Night has always been a hugely profitable film series, it isn’t so surprising that this was one of the first out of the blocks once the actual good movies had been ruined. As is always the way with these remakes, instead of taking the original film and having another look at it, perhaps amping up the boob count and the gore for the jaundiced youth of today, maybe introducing some drugs and whatnot, the makers of the 2008 version of Prom Night decided to toss the whole thing out and introduce us to the most drab, boring, shiny and heartless slasher movie imaginable. There was no love put into this production at all, and as a direct result of this Prom Night 2008 is a charmless and dull experience, one that is not recommended to anyone other than those completing a series.

The film opens, not with Prom, but with a flashback to a horrific event in young Donna Keppel’s life. Her family is slaughtered by a teacher with a kiddie fiddling obsession for her, and as a result, she’s deeply traumatised. Fast forward to 2008, and the nutter is on the loose again, while young Donna (Brittany Snow) is on serious antidepressants. Donna and her odious friends all are booked to go to prom, and I bet you can’t see how this is going to go. In the meantime, Detective Winn (Idris Elba) is desperately stumbling around trying to prevent Donna going to the graduation in the sky. Incidentally, it’s one of the major weaknesses of the script that he doesn’t seem to particularly be concerned in comparison about everyone else at the party.

It didn't matter how long Brittany hid under the bed for, she was always found and made to finish the film.

Amongst Donna’s foul group are Claire (Jessica Stroup), her dickhead boyfriend (cannot be bothered to look either his name or the character’s name up. The film isn’t worth it), Ronnie (Collins Pennie) and Lisa (Dana Davis). Lisa and Ronnie are mentioned because aside from being obvious cannon fodder, they are the bookies’ favourite to walk away with the plastic crowns. Really, though, a more identikit group of slasher victims has never graced the screen and the whole exercise feels a bit, well, pointless. Not that the actors are bad, because they aren’t, but let’s face it, we’re not talking about Jamie Lee Curtis here.

Anyhow, the nutter picks them off one by one, apparently to get to Donna, and the film culminates in him being shot in the head by Idris back at Donna’s place after the rising body count has forced the organisers to call the Prom off.

Where to begin, where to begin…

Look at those faces: 6 young actors/ actresses and not a flicker of interest between any of them. I've not seen a more perfect pictorial representation of these remakes than this.

Right, this is clearly a crap film. I’ve already called it heartless, charmless and soulless and really I haven’t got a lot more to add. This is the very epitome of a well made, well acted, well produced film with an utterly dismal script. I’m not convinced this started life as a Prom Night film, to be honest, as it seems to lack the verve of the sequels (pretending 4 doesn’t exist) or the moral core of the original. By deliberately breaking the link between the childhood sin and the later murders, Prom Night 2008 manages to remove the singular interesting feature of the original. I can’t see the point of doing this. Slasher movies are dime a dozen, and by not only stripping the killer of his anonymity, but by making him a diagnosed psycho (there’s a clear nod to Halloween here, which is a shame, because it just reminded me of how to do this sort of thing properly) it removes the sole point of distinction to the original movie.

I’m not saying that I want to see a blow-by-blow rehash of the 70’s film. However, what I would like to see, and I don’t feel that this is asking too much, is a film that can at least be distinguished from the herd in some way. This cannot be said of Prom Night 2008. To compound the sin even further, the killer himself, Richard (Johnathon Schaech) is a singularly uninteresting individual. There’s no controlled or otherwise mania to him, and there’s nothing there that distinguishes him from countless other slashers out there.

Idris knew that vindaloo last night was a mistake.

This is a film that belongs in the same class as When A Stranger Calls (although it is far, far better than that piece of shit), and in terms of cinematography and sound work it’s very similar. I suppose because the Prom itself is transplanted from the fucking O.C. or something, but there’s none of the disco flair that the 70’s version had in spades. Instead, the music is as generic chart music as you can imagine. In terms of interest as well, sadly, it’s also very similar, being a boring and tiresome effort that I’ve now seen twice, due to being utterly unable to remember it at all first time.

Almost all the problems here come from the script and direction. The script (by J.S. Cardone) fails to distinguish between the teenage characters. They all speak with the same voice and so forth. This is the Prom Night for the fucking Midwich Cuckoos. The direction, on the other hand, is almost paint-by-numbers stuff. Nelson McCormick is a TV director of some note, and this reeks of TV direction. It’s just so fucking flat and lifeless, failing to generate either tension or fear, and being so stingy with the gore (and completely absent with the boob) that it feels as if he’s following a set of orders from the marketing department at the studio.

This, actually, is one of the more annoying murder scenes out there. I hoped Scream had killed this kind of thing, but sadly, she's the only teenager in 2008 not to know the rules.

This is not cinema as art, and it isn’t cinema as entertainment either. What this is is merely another, and in my opinion, culminatory example of marketing driven horseshit. This isn’t a film, it’s the plastic toy in a cereal box, being properly designed to be as utterly disposable and worthless as possible. Watching Prom Night 2008 is a draining experience, for all the wrong reasons, as I could feel my soul sinking with every predictable and uninteresting turn the story took. This is a very bad film.

It’s actually a bit of a shame as well. Prom Night had a budget of $20m, which is so far in excess of what the original had as to not be funny in the slightest. When I think about how that money could have been better spent on a film with some originality, heart, flair and, well, sense of fun, I can’t help but think this is an inconceivable waste of time, money and effort. Although I do remain unconvinced that anyone put in anything more than the most perfunctory of effort.

Overall, this is shit and I don’t recommend it. I’m sorry about the depressed tone of this review, but these Platinum Dunes style films really do get me down. I can’t try to be funny about it, because the fact that this piece of shit made double it’s budget at the Box Office (and it had a decent budget as well) is just so profoundly depressing that it makes me despair of the youth of today. I’m not Orangutan of Dooming it (although it is tempting) because that does a disservice to the cast who really are trying to make the best of a bad script. Instead it can have 1 dumpster baby out of a possible 4, and as I say, don’t touch it.

At the end of the day, if you want to watch a Prom Night film, watch either the Original (for Jamie Lee) or either of the two Mary Lou films, which are both hugely entertaining, and above all else have a bit of heart. That is not something you can accuse this film of having.

Until next time,

Jarv.

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About Jarv

Workshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.

36 responses to “You can’t lose your virginity twice: Prom Night (2008)”

  1. Jarv says :

    As I say, apologies for the tone of this. It gets me down.

  2. Xiphos0311 says :

    There’s nothing less imaginative or original, and dare I say soulless, than this shiny American remake trend…a charmless and dull experience.

    That cherry picked quote I engineered sums up my experience with a majority of movies for the last decade if not longer. If only you could have thrown the word derivative in somewhere I could have created the perfect quote.

    No need to apologize for the tone it sounds appropriate for the trash you reviewed.

  3. Continentalop says :

    I actually am all for remakes of bad, flawed movies. Siskel and Ebert once recommended that, and I agree with them: why try to match something that is already great when you can remake a bad movie and fix what was wrong with it?

    However, what I hate about the new remake trend nowadays, is even when they remake a bad movie (let’s be honest, the original Prom Night was no classic) they still somehow end up making it worse than the original.

    Inexcusable IMO.

    • Jarv says :

      The original was pretty crap, to be honest, but they seemed to have cared about what they were doing.

      Nobody gave a fuck on this one.

      I agree with you about remaking flawed films. It’s just saddening when they make them worse

      • Continentalop says :

        Well, as all of us know, there is something daring and bold about a lot of the older exploitation and b-movies they are now remaking. Something that could make you overlook a lot of their flaws. Call it a sense of spirit and verve.

        But these new ones, like you said, just seem so soulless and artificial. I will say they are technically better, but they are like watching a sports team playing not to lose vs. watching one trying to win no matter what.

      • Jarv says :

        While technically better, I’ll take the charm of something like the burning over this.

        Just an awful, awful trend.

      • Continentalop says :

        I actually hate the Burning, but I know what you mean. At least that felt like they were putting in some effort.

      • Jarv says :

        I don’t especially like the burning, but there’s a gleefulness to it utterly lacking from these po-faced shiny remakes

    • Xiphos0311 says :

      why waste money and time remaking something already made when you could try something new? I know most of this quickie remakes do make operational money for the studios so I guess I answered my own question

      • Jarv says :

        This pos doubled its budget.

        Ultimate example of bottom line film making.

      • Continentalop says :

        Two words Xi. The Crazies.

      • Droid says :

        Yeah that’s an example of how you can remake a movie and not be an obvious marketing exercise. If the remake is good, no one complains.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        except that the Crazies was an exception they made a good movie that made some money. Most of these cash grabs are just that cash grabs made for a cheap as possible and hiring barely competent actors. The Crazies went the other way moderately budgeted with good actors in it.

      • Echo the Bunnyman says :

        The Crazies is also an example of taking a flawed movie with extra crap in it, and streamlining it and minding it for the potential of the premise. The remake is a much better movie than the original in this case.

      • Continentalop says :

        Sorry, I misunderstood your question. I thought you were talking about why remaking flawed movies.

      • Continentalop says :

        But to go on about these cash grabs, most of them really just care about the name value of the property. Sure Prom Night and Black Christmas don’t have the same name recognition that Halloween, TCM or Friday the 13th have, but they have some recognition. That’s why they make these movies: to cash in on the name associated with a specific genre (slasher films).

        These movies are cynical as hell. Taking a name property in a specific genre and making it just because you bought the rights to the name.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        Conti I get why they make them for the cash. From what I understand reading an article a few years ago, in I think the Wall Street journal, its these cheapy knock offs that keep the studios running. Sure everybody talks about summer movie A making X number of millions of dollars but its these types of movies that actually keep the studios in the black and operating.

        I understand the financial part of this equation and don’t have a problem with it. Where my beef lies is why make bad movies? Do your job well, even if its a remake. I’m insulted by the cynicism and the laziness. For every remake like The Crazies you get like 10 of this sort of movie that Jarv reviewed, barely competent and bland. If you’re going to fail at least fail with some ambition.

        The other problem I have is that there are probably dozens of good movies that could be made with the money wasted on these kinds of soulless junk.

      • Continentalop says :

        You’re preaching to the choir, XI.

        I understand not every movie is going to be good but at least put in some effort. I can always appreciate that. These things don’t even really try.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        yeah the lack of ambition is frustrating but equally frustrating is that while the remakes are technically much more accomplished then the original they lack a few key ingredients for success, fun and entertainment. The original might have been crappily made but it was made with heart and fun. These new movies usually lack any trace of either one.

      • Continentalop says :

        You know what is a sad and scary thought:

        What if they were trying and this was the best they could do?

      • Jarv says :

        They weren’t in this case. Blatantly nobody gave a red fuck.

  4. Droid says :

    Man, this sounds like absolute shit.

  5. Xiphos0311 says :

    The Crazies is also an example of taking a flawed movie with extra crap in it, and streamlining it and minding it for the potential of the premise. The remake is a much better movie than the original in this case.

    That’s exactly what Snyder did with his vastly superior Dawn remake kick all of Romero’s horseshit out the door and make a good movie.
    3..2..1…

    • Echo the Bunnyman says :

      For me the problem with the Dawn remake is two-fold. I think Romero hadn’t completely disappeared into his own ass by that point and so I enjoy the original Dawn quite a bit and found some of his ideas interesting. Day is a different story completely, and after that, forget about it.

      Second, if Snyder had done with Eisner had done, and removed George’s crap to streamline the theme, great. BUt Snyder filled all the holes with his own brand of crap, like the zombie baby and some of the over-stylized editing.

      Personally, I enjoy both of them, with Snyder’s Dawn easily the best thing he’s done.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        I like the Z baby it was a good and logical idea plus they shot it in the head which took some nuts to imply. The editing well that is the price to pay for getting the kids asses in the seats some of it was annoying most worked at least it wasn’t slow mo 300 style crud.

        I disagree I think Dawn is the movie where Romero shoved his entire head into his colon in my opinion. Almost all of the movie doesn’t make any sense unless you’re trying to excoriate people for consumerism in a movie distributed to theaters in order to make a profit

        Who holds up in a structure you can’t protect with 4 people becasue your perimeter is way to big? Why AGAIN/for the first time do characters care about money? The world is gone and there is nothing to spend it on, hell they have access to everything in the mall but ham fist had to make a stupid point. There are a dozen others but my point stands head insert in ass.

      • Continentalop says :

        I love the original DotD. Great movie (yes Xi, I said that).

        Snyder’s Dawn had two good moments: the opening credits and the end credits. The stuff in-between felt like filler.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        you manged to find two more thing to like then I did with with ham fists mess.

  6. ThereWolf says :

    I had already filed this one under ‘The Fog’, ‘House Of Wax’ etc… never gonna watch it.

    No need to apologise about the tone, Jarv.

  7. MORBIUS says :

    “Watching Prom Night 2008 is a draining experience, for all the wrong reasons, as I could feel my soul sinking with every predictable and uninteresting turn the story took. This is a very bad film.”

    The same feeling I got from reading this review.

    *scratches Prom Night (2008) off ‘Need to See List.*

  8. Just Pillow Talk says :

    Heh…this tone reminds me of a couple points during my birthday series.
    Look at it this way, there’s no more Prom Nights, right?

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