Monday, October 6, 2008

Prom Night

Friday, October 3, 2008

Okay, so just to confirm: "Your Vice is a Horror Movie Marathon and Only I Have the Netflix Queue" is the official title for this month's glut of horror movies.

I'm not even sure if it's worth taking the time to tear down Prom Night, but I guess I'll do it any way. Firstly, it's a remake of one of the lesser major 80's slasher movies, a few notches below My Bloody Valentine, although it's heritage is more or less incidental because they threw out everything about the original movie except it's title and location. It's a PG-13 slasher movie, which means it's about teenagers who don't fuck or even say "fuck," and a killer who manages to stab a lot of people to death without drawing much blood. Actually, I watched the unrated version, but you could have fooled me, this was about as un-graphic as these things come.

It's a polished, reasonably budgeted studio release, which means everything is shot really well: it's colorful, well lit, glossy, slick, etc etc. Problem is, for all the technical competence, it seems like it was made by people who don't know anything about horror movies. The worst, and I've noticed this in a few modern mainstream horror movies, is the editing. See, to effectively build suspense, sometimes you need to let things play out a bit. Let a creepy moment hang in the air for a second. But the editing here is so relentless that no mood is established, and the rhythm is way too fast. It's just cut cut cut cut nonstop, with no room to breathe. And if I had to guess, I would say it's because no one gave a shit about making this a good movie, they just wanted it to be fast paced enough to occupy the ADD preteens that comprise its audience.

(Which, by the way, is all bullshit. This year's The Strangers made just as much money as this shit did, and it was a violent, R rated horror movie that actually tried to build a mood and generate suspense, and was actually willing to hold a shot for more than 2 seconds).

Of course, the shitty screenplay doesn't help. I'm not even going to bitch about the paper thin, generic, indistinguishable, not particularly likable characters, because that's been a staple of the genre for years. This is a pretty egregious example, since it's PG-13-ified and so the 2D characters can't even have a personality trait like "slut" or "foul mouthed", but that's okay. I can tolerate that in a slasher movie. I won't complain about the 2 detective characters who take up a lot of screen time, and must be 2 of the least competent cops in film history, since like 10 people get murdered right under their noses and they don't even notice until it's way too late. At least they were played by Stringer Bell and Ziggy from The Wire, so they are unintentionally interesting. And horror movies have a history of stupid cops.

What I will complain about is the lazy-ass plot. Apparently, everything interesting about this story took place before the actual events of the movie. The killer is a former high school teacher who is for some reason obsessed with the main character. Years ago, he killed her entire family and was locked away, so now he breaks out of the looney bin to come get her, coincidentally on prom night. Am I wrong in thinking that this would be a much more interesting movie if it was set back when he was still a teacher, and he was growing obsessed with his student? That would provide all sorts of opportunities to build suspense and create a creepy vibe. Instead it's just an arbitrary back story that doesn't add anything to the plot. They don't give the killer much personality, so they really could have explained his presence any way they felt like. The original Prom Night is a shitty movie, but at least there's a mystery over the killer's identity and motive, which gives the illusion of drama. Here, there really isn't much story except that there's a guy at the prom killing people.

Alright, I think that's enough explanation. This is without a doubt one of the worst horror movies I've seen in a good long while, and it's not even accidentally funny like an Uwe Boll movie.

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