A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this violent (yet curiously dull) slasher-style teen horror film -- which is a loose remake of the identically named 1980 Jamie Lee Curtis movie -- includes a constant stream of stabbings, stranglings, and other murders, all of which are committed without craft, tension, or any subtlety whatsoever. It's just a string of killings and gory bloodshed. There's also some discussion of sex and sexuality, references to underage drinking, and strong language ("s--t").
What's the story?
Donna Kepple (Brittany Snow) is haunted by nightmares; three years ago, her teacher, Mr. Fenton (Jonathon Schaech), became obsessed with her, and that madness turned murderous. After a series of killings, Fenton was caught, and while Donna is safe with her aunt and uncle, she's still troubled by what happened to her. Now it's PROM NIGHT, and Donna and her friends are off for the crowning evening of their high school careers -- which, of course, is when viewers find out that Fenton has escaped custody. Soon, Donna and her friends are all marked for death as a killer stalks the hotel halls. ...
Is it any good?
Prom Night is a fairly plotless film, even by the low standards of horror moviemaking. From the outset, we're told who the killer is and what he wants, so there are no red herrings or misdirection, just a series of slashings and stabbings as various prom attendees and innocent bystanders are picked off one by one. Schaech's Fenton is a shabby, thinly-drawn bad guy, and Snow's Donna is a plucky, standard-issue horror film heroine. Even the superb Idris Elba (The Wire) is wasted as a cardboard caricature cop who's infuriatingly inept. Prom Night feels more generic than anything else -- like it was assembled from a box labeled "Horror Movie Scenes."
Deeply flawed, Prom Night is a by-the-numbers horror flick that confuses mere violence with real vitality and substitutes shock for suspense. Compared to better-done examples of the genre (see below), it manages to be both violent and deathly dull.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of horror films. How would you describe the experience of watching them? Why do they so often put young women in peril? Families can also discuss the difference between shock and suspense and the difference between violence and tension. Main character Donna is dealing with a clear case of post-traumatic stress syndrome; families can talk about trying to recover from tragedy and violence.
- In theaters: April 11, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: August 18, 2008
- Cast: Brittany Snow, Dana Davis, Johnathon Schaech
- Director: Nelson McCormick
- Studio: Screen Gems
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence and terror, some sexual material, underage drinking, and language.
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