Prom Night review

An eighties slasher classic remade - but does it have the requisite sharp edge to engage modern horror fans?

Hollywood remakes take the brunt of many an unhappy person’s online fury. A bad day at the office? Michael Bay is gonna pay for this! You spent your 42nd birthday alone and you still live with your parents? Then fuck Rob Zombie!

Yet for all the online hatred, remakes of old horror movies are bankable affairs. So much so, it seems, that Prom Night has taken its name from an 80’s slasher but built an entirely different film around it. This is particularly confusing given that the target audience for this 15-rated horror is unlikely to have even been born when the original was released. No matter, it would appear, as the film took the number one box office spot in the US, raking in over $20m in its opening weekend.

Personally, I’m not too bothered where a film takes its source material from. A more pressing issue for me is whether a film is any good. In the case of Prom Night, the main similarity that the 2008 version has with the original is that neither is particularly good and yet both are still quite entertaining.

The story centres on a group of teenagers at their senior prom. It’s a final farewell before they all head off to college and begin the next phase of their lives. The twist is that a crazed former teacher who has a deadly obsession with one of the students has escaped from a mental hospital and is intent on reuniting with her.

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It should be said, Prom Night is very much a horror movie for the generation that don’t know that MTV used to play music, that Vinnie Jones used to play football or that Michael Barrymore used to play Strike It Lucky for half an hour in every living room in the country without the insinuation that something untoward was afoot. If you don’t ‘get’ shows like One Tree Hill and My Super Sweet 16 then you’ll probably feel as baffled by Prom Night as I did. The dialogue will seem cheesy, the characters loathsome and the story extremely predictable.

Fortunately, owing to an astonishingly high number of continuity errors, the film is a great deal of fun. It’s an interesting insight into the ADD generation. It’s also fun to see how difficult a time was had keeping the film kiddie-friendly enough to reach the appropriate age rating. In the world of Prom Night someone can be stabbed to death without shedding a single drop of blood from their invisible stab wounds.

In between the stalking and slashing we get several emotional, teen-drama speeches. They’re not easy on the ear but, again, I’m sure they go down a treat with the One Tree Hill crowd. It typifies the lack of self-awareness that is present throughout the film. In fact, when about thirty minutes in a generic teenager remarks that “this is getting silly now”, you almost want him to turn and wink at the camera. Alas, he does not.

If you’re reading this site, you’re probably not the audience for this particular film. It’s aimed at teenagers who want a quick sugar rush and there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s a market and clearly a very profitable one. Anyone else might want to wait for the DVD. And have a magazine handy. And some friends over. And a few pizzas. And a bunch of beer. And maybe some whiskey or vodka. Bacardi, even. Something strong. But if you do, you might just have a fun night.