I don’t know if you can actually call this a remake. After all the ballyhoo from horror geeks bitching about a remake of a rather awful slasher film starring Jamie Lee Curtis in her heyday, I walked out of the theaters and really couldn’t shake a feeling that, I think a week out of the gate, many are starting to realize too: It’s not a remake. Not in the least, which is a shame because Paul Lynch’s original still has potential to be an excellent revenge flick.
This new “Prom Night” is set amidst the “My Sweet Sixteen” inspired backdrop (much like the recent “April Fool’s Day” remake), and is more of a thriller than a slasher, built on a foundation of humdrum genre clichés ranging from clunky foreshadowing, halls and stairwells draped in shadows, vivid nightmare fake-outs, young women running in their high heels, that mirror gag we all know and love, and a walk-in closet that seems to compel everyone who walks by it.
The ludicrous plot centers on the impossibly virginal Donna, whose family was slain by obsessed school teacher David Fenton (Jonathan Schaech). Years later after heavy therapy and repetitive inspirational speeches from her psychologist and family, she readies herself for the final challenge: the prom. And wouldn’t you know it? Ol’ Mr. Fenton is back and armed with a knife.
At first resembling Yusuf Islam, Fenton returns now as a doppelganger of Forrest Gump dressed in a suit jacket and baseball cap, allowed to saunter around a crowded hotel; left to his own misdeeds without being noticed or even questioned. In spite of the news bulletin and police APBs, he’s still able to walk into a packed hotel filled with partiers and rent a room without even a second glance. He also has amazing stealth, allowing him to sneak past armed SWAT members, and slide into a house’s second floor without even making a sound.
McCormick’s bout of quasi-horror escapism is sadly nothing but a routine of limp plot devices and poorly edited off-screen murders splashed over a bland teen drama, based around the appeal of mild celebrities like Brittany Snow. Despite the best efforts by talented actors like Idris Elba and Jessalyn Gilsig (who all stumble around with little to nothing to do), writer J.S. Cardone strikes up slim reasoning to engage us in the plot that drags on even at ninety minutes.
It fails to even be a throwaway experience, because as a slasher it’s much too stern and dull to take with a tongue-in-cheek attitude; Hell, even Schaech looks bored, merely mugging at characters from a distance and grumbling his dialogue. While it’s certainly not as atrocious as the likes of “One Missed Call,” it’s certainly one of the worst of 2008, so far.