Prom Night



Now here's something unusual -- a remake of a classic slasher movie that actually tones down the violence of the original rather than bringing it more in line with today's torture porn standards.

But while playing to a PG-13 rating can have its virtues, "Prom Night," a reworking of the 1980 original, needed to substitute the excised graphic stuff with some genuine jolts and creepy scares, along the lines of John Carpenter's first "Halloween."

Alas, the awfully bland 2008 version, serving as the feature directorial debut of Nelson McCormick ("CSI," "Prison Break") and written by J.S. Cardone ("The Covenant"), offers no such thrills, proving to be about as spine-tingling as an algebra exam.

Obviously targeting a young female demographic, the benign Screen Gems release should handily scare off the young male audience that usually makes or breaks a horror film.

Where the very first "Prom Night," itself a shameless "Carrie" knockoff, presented a mystery killer with a method to his madness -- he was avenging the death of a little girl at the hands of the group of teens he was terrorizing -- not to mention a disco-dancing Jamie Lee Curtis back in her scream queen days, the "reimagined" edition dispenses with ulterior motives.

Here we have senior student Donna Keppel ("Hairspray's" Brittany Snow), who lost her entire family three years earlier at the blood-stained hands of Richard Fenton (Johnathon Schaech) an obsessed teacher who wanted her all to himself.

Now living with her aunt and uncle, Donna is trying not to let her tragic past ruin Prom Night, but, Mr. Fenton has other ideas, having just escaped from his maximum security asylum.

After significantly toning down the usual shock/camp value, "Prom Night" cries out for the sort of lurking dread and prevailing off-kilter mood that are hallmarks of the more effective psychological thrillers.

There's the obligatory body count, but minus anything resembling originality or resourcefulness, sometimes it's hard to tell if the remarkably demure marks left by the resident psychopath are from fatal stabbings or smudged lip gloss.

Given that the title event has to be one of the dullest prom nights ever recorded on film, chances are good that some of Fenton's presumed victims actually died of boredom.

Screen Gems
Screen Gems presents an Original Film/Newmarket Films production in association with Alliance Films
Credits: Director: Nelson McCormick
Writer: J.S. Cardone
Producers: Neal H. Moritz, Toby Jaffe
Executive producers: Glenn S. Gainor, Marc Forby, J.S. Cardone, Bruce Mellon, William Tyrer, Chris J. Ball
Director of photography: Checco Varese
Production designer: Jon Gary Steele
Music: Paul Haslinger
Editor: Jason Ballantine
Donna Keppel: Brittany Snow
Bobby: Scott Porter
Claire: Jessica Stroup
Lisa Hines: Dana Davis
Ronnie Heflin: Collins Pennie
Richard Fenton: Johnathon Schaech
Detective Winn: Idris Elba
Running time -- 85 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13