Film: 'Prom Night'; Cast: Brittany Snow, Scott Porter, Idris Elba, Jonathan Schaech; Director: Nelson McCormick; Ratings: *
Movie audiences will forgive movies with even the most worn out plot lines, if they can be presented in a different and interesting way. The horror genre is even more restricted and if it strays from the formula too much, it just might fail.
'Prom Night' tries its best to stick to the formula and covers some very familiar terrain, but it is just too safe and boring.
Like most horror movies, 'Prom Night' revolves around teens and this time it is the American teen rite of passage - the prom night - that serves as the premise.
Donna (Brittany Snow) had to witness her family killed by a teacher obsessed with her. She moves on with her life, now living with her uncle and aunt. It's prom night and she hopes to make it the best night of her life with her friends. But the murderer Richard Fenton (Jonathan Schaech) has just escaped three days ago and he wants to find Donna because he believes he is meant to be with her.
From the moment prom night begins, the movie turns limp. The characters exchange some pleasantries and there is no dread of the horror we know is coming. The movie also requires audiences to really stretch their imagination in believing that the killer can just walk around unnoticed, book himself into a hotel even though he's escaped jail three days earlier.
The movie also suffers from a lack of background. There is no history presented as to why the teacher is obsessed with Donna. Most of the characters are presented to clearly fit out the requisite ingredients for a horror movie.
Even hardcore horror fans will be disappointed with the lack of gore. It is far too safe. There could have been a better build up of suspense if we were presented more of the methods of the killer. He inadvertently pops up at the scene just in time.
It would have been more fulfilling to be in awe of the killer's skill and we could truly fear him. We are not allowed to form any kind of impression of the killer and simply have to believe that he is a very bad man.
Though inferior, the movie does not outright embarrass itself. The production is slick and the camerawork in some scenes is commendable. The score manages to build up some sort of suspense and it is not intrusive.
There are no big names here and it clearly shows. The actors try their best to fill out the cardboard thin characters the script presents them with. The most decent acting job in the movie is Idris Elba playing Detective Winn.
Of all the actors, he looks the most likely to shine in the future if given better roles.
This is not a movie anyone should hurry to go and see. But for horror fans looking for something more fleetingly entertaining, 'Prom Night' might be a pleasant surprise.