Normally if I’m going to oblige my ‘review all theatrical releases’ rule for something I care nothing about, I’ll go early Saturday morning in order to reward the film as little of my dollar as possible. This time, however, Christine, my fiance, knew from my ranting and raving just how magical of an experience PROM NIGHT was going to be and wanted to go together. Imagine her surprise then upon learning that she was in store for a strictly PG-13 experience. She had merely assumed it was going to be R and was down right crestfallen to hear the already impotent flick had lollipops in its veins. I believe her precise words were, “Well, why the fuck?”
There is no causation associated with a film’s rating. An R flick can be just as weak as a PG-13, this we all know. An R tends to be correlated with a better horror movie for reasons that don’t need to be explained, but a rating alone is not the biological parent of a good (or bad) piece of terror. The blood doesn’t need to rain down, the characters don’t need to talk like “DEADWOOD” and the wardrobe doesn’t need to fall on and off. All you need is a hook. An idea. Footing upon which to stand. Know what you’re doing and why and the rating is a side effect of your film, not the symptom of it.
PROM NIGHT, however, has none of this. It has no hook. No idea, no footing. No direction. No talent. No sense of consequence. No interest. No originality. No intelligence. No balls. No identity. No form, no function. The flick even lacks blood to flow in its soulless non-heart. I know I just said blood wasn’t tied to quality, but give me something, anything! I spilled more red shaving in 2007 than can be found in all of PROM NIGHT and I haven’t even shaved since 2004.
PROM NIGHT is about the cast of “LAGUNA BEACH” (or “THE HILLS” or “GOSSIP GIRL” or that other show) on the night of their absurd gala and the ex-teacher obsessed with one of the students who breaks out of a psychiatric ward to go hide in a bunch of closets at the hotel the guys and gals are alternatively dancing and crying at. 61 year old writer/producer J.S. Cardone (I once said I don’t trust people who use two letters in their names; here’s another reason why) has no clue how to write for this generation and the resulting characters are a gaggle of bore. The inept understanding of youth is compounded by the ridiculous prom, which gives the flick a crushing sense of unreality. The clique parade down a sectioned off red-carpet into the hotel while cameras flash all around them. Who are these people taking pictures of nobody prom goers at a hotel? No, seriously. I want to know who the hell were the 40+ people taking pictures of them as if they were at the premiere of FANTASTIC FOUR 3: LOWER THE OVERHEAD.
There is never any sense of dread in PROM NIGHT. Loud noises and he-was-just-there! moments are the name of the game. The film’s killer is a limp noodle about as hard edged as ice cream cake. Director McCormick has got it in his head that a baseball cap and down turned head is somehow threatening. It is not. It doesn’t help the situation that the killer, actor Jonathon Schaech, looks like Vincent Gallo with collagen lip injections and is as threatening a prospect as that image suggests.
The actors and actress making up the body count are present and accounted for but their performances play out as if they never progressed past rehearsals. There isn’t a single actor who was irreplacable and while I don’t want to go so superficial as to rag on the looks of (almost) celebs who I’m sure are charming folk in real life, I will say this: 1080p will not be kind to the makeup caked faces here.
Little makes sense in PROM NIGHT. People behave in and out of character at the plot’s illogical whimsy. The side-thread of a police investigation is a tacked on, humorless joke. Closets in this hotel are more baffling than the spatially defying creation found in the brilliant novel HOUSE OF LEAVES. No light can penetrate their cavernous edges and the tinny clinking of metal coat hangers within are loud enough to drown out heeled footsteps on hardwood. That or every character, killer included, is a daft tool who couldn’t hear a dump truck driving through a nitroglycerin plant.
PROM NIGHT is a bitter disaster that has nothing sweet about it. It is less scary than a Lifetime Original movie. Nelson McCormick, a blue-collar director through and through, is a talentless worker. His slasher is as sharp as a beach ball, even going so far as to lose in the phallic imagery department. Did no one tell him that a slasher’s weapon should be something prominent and straight with a long shaft, like a machete or a massive kitchen knife? Guess not since ole’ collagen-Gallo has a tiny instrument with a curved blade as intimidating as a spork.
There will not be a lower point in theatrical horror until Nelson McCormick’s remake of THE STEPFATHER comes out in ’09, of this my confidence cannot be tested. Until then, I believe the proper term from PROM NIGHT is epic fail.