Friday, September 13, 2013

Bella Donna

Year: 2008
Director: Nelson McCormick
Cast: Brittany Snow, Idris Elba, Johnathon Schaech
Run Time: 1 hour 28 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Not that any of us should be surprised, especially considering that it's a remake, but Prom Night has absolutely nothing to do with its titanically offbeat predecessors. It is only nominally a remake, so much so that not a single one of the franchise staples - Hamilton High, Brock Simpson, a score by Paul Zaza, secretly being Canadian - are present.

Literally the only thing it has in common with the rest of the movies is that it takes place at a prom, which isn't even true of all four (remember Prom Night IV? We just talked about it).

Enough complaining. Remake culture is what it is and nothing I can do will be able to change that. And some remakes were even *gulp* kinda good. Although I can knock one out of my good esteem right now.

When Cassidy and I sat down to watch the entire Prom Night series, we both vaguely remembered the remake as being a tolerable but forgettable affair. Not a stain on the underwear of humanity, but actually a halfway decent horror flick despite its PG-13 lack of gore.

And the ferociously bland supporting cast.

We were dead wrong.

Prom Night opens with Donna Keppel (Brittany Snow) coming home to find her father and little brother with their throats slashed by a maniac teacher (Johnathon Schaech) who has developed an obsession with her. She hears a noise in the other room and hides under the bed as the killer throws her mother on the floor, demanding to be told where she is. Her mother refuses to say and, glimpsing her daughter cowering feet away from her, stands her ground, only to be brutally murdered. Right in front of her daughter.

In five minutes Prom Night has already covered darker subject matter than the average war movie, and it is exceedingly unpleasant.


Get used to that. You're going to be hearing that word a lot tonight.

It's not exactly rainbows and puppy dogs down here.

I don't know why both Cassidy's and my memories were so cloudy on this account. Maybe we weren't old enough to understand the full impact of what we were seeing. Maybe our thought processes regarding movie watching have grown more sophisticated after our first year of college (Psych 101 does wonders, I'm telling you). But this scene, and every one that proceeded, was unmistakably vile and.... unpleasant.

Slashers very frequently depict scenes of pain and death (obviously), but never has a slasher movie been so mean-spirited or told a story that was just so very sad. It's not that the characters are developed more than the average movie or even that the deaths are more visceral. And it's definitely not intentional. But every single death in the movie is like a punch in the gut - one more reason to consider turning the film off.

It's not fun, like the cheesy gore pictures of the 80's. It's not a fable of evil the likes of Halloween. It's not even trying to glean some sort of feeling from the painful (and bloodless) deaths. It is inhuman and mechanical, without conscience, trying to replicate the tropes of the slasher genre and obeying the letter of the law without ever once comprehending the spirit.

Honestly and without exaggeration, if there is a single slasher movie that could be constructed by the forces of pure evil, it would be this one. Not one moment of this film is redeeming, from the wealth of terrible jump scares (the Abominable Mirror Scare is used at least three times along with a litany of other genre standards, notably the Backing Into a Friend and It's All a Dream) to the utterly stupid even for a horror movie slate of Meat to the completely inappropriate and grotesque main villain to the truly staggering number of characters sent to the killer's domain for no reason but to be gutted.

One by one we watch everything Donna loves get taken away from her.

Her family? Tortured and gored.

Her friends? Throats slit and bodies shoved into closets.

Her prom night? An utter nightmare of torment, blood, and latent pedophilia.

Her boyfriend? Stabbed in the throat as he lies in bed with her.

This movie is a conveyor belt of tortures for this poor girl who is sweetness embodied. And who could expect anything less from Brittany Snow?

I don't know why anybody would expect that we should want to see this film, and I can't even adequately explain to myself what magical quality this film possesses that makes it so utterly immoral and venomous, but I know bad juju when I see it and this movie needs a cleansing. And fast.

I don't care about recapping the rest of the plot, because I don't want anybody else to ever have to watch this movie ever again.

Killer: Richard Fenton (Johnathon Schaech)
Final Girl: Donna Keppel (Brittany Snow)
Best Kill: N/A. If you'd read even a single word in the preceding article, you'd know why.
Scariest Moment: Donna has to watch her mother die defending her, unable to help or cry out.
Sign of the Times: "I'll go request some JT." Also the size of the digital camera the girls bring to prom.
Weirdest Moment: The entire thing took place in Portland. Poor Cassidy.
Champion Dialogue: "If he were any dumber, I'd have to water him."
Body Count: 14, the highest in the series.
  1. Mr. Keppel is stabbed to death.
  2. Joey Keppel is stabbed to death.
  3. Mrs. Keppel is stabbed to death.
  4. Inmate has his throat slit.
  5. Maria is stabbed to death.
  6. Claire is stabbed to death.
  7. Michael is stabbed to death.
  8. Simms is strangled.
  9. Howard's throat is slit.
  10. Lisa's throat is slit
  11. Detective Nash's throat is slit
  12. Bobby's throat is slit.
  13. Officer Hicks is stabbed to death.
  14. Richard Fenton is shot seven times in the chest. 
TL;DR: Prom Night is a vile and grotesque creature, possessing a nearly unexplainable but overwhelming quality of being the most immoral and vile film I have ever seen.
Rating: 1/10
Word Count: 1028
Reviews In This Series
Prom Night (Lynch, 1980)
Prom Night III: The Last Kiss (Oliver/Simpson, 1990)
Prom Night (McCormick, 2008)

1 comment:

  1. I hated this movie and could not agree with your critique more.