I finally figured something out that I’d otherwise intuitively knew. For awhile now, I suspected that my championing of 1980s teen slasher films over their modern equivalents was largely if not entirely a product of adolescent idealizing. After all, so much of the media we consume as teens, were we to experience it 10-20 years after the fact, probably wouldn’t hold weight to what may or may not be maturing tastes. And while some of those Reagan-era horror movies have their share of camp and incompetence, I’m willing to now stand firm on a newer and more accurate observation. Want to know what it is?
Of course you do. In fact, I’m going to tell you in this very paragraph. You see, the teen slashers of two decades back are, at their core, horror movies… that happen to have teens in them. This generation’s largely bankrupt attempts at the teen slasher premise are actually teen movies… that happen to have a gruesome death every 15-30 minutes. And that is the difference. Whereas films such as (the original) Friday The 13th and A Nightmare of Elm Street center on terror/horror/fear/blood, today’s pale emulators are, basically, Mean Girls, or Bring It On, or Eurotrip… with a body count. And, yes, Prom Night is one of the those movies.
A few of you might be confused at this point. You might be saying, “But, Matt… Prom Night IS an ’80s teen slasher film.” Well, yes, the one that came out in 1980 does fit the bill. THIS Prom Night, however, is an entirely different flick. And by entirely, I mean the only resemblance it has to its namesake is its name. None of the same characters, storyline, climax or resolution. Likewise is the absence of total creepiness, dismemberment on the disco dance floor, that groovy title track, and, of course, Jaime Lee Curtis. For shame!
So, with that all gone, what’s left for the faux-remake? Here’s the rundown: Girl witnesses her family killed by psycho, psycho is put away, psycho escapes prison, psycho returns to town to stalk girl at her prom, and proceeds to kill a bunch of people along the way. Thoroughly paint-by-numbers — if you had a giant brush, a small canvas, and one color.
But, since you probably want to know more than that, I can assure you that the acting vacillates between stiff and forced. The characters are nails-on-the-chalkboard annoying, and that’s not merely the crabby old man in me talking. I actually remember noting that, at the 18-minute mark, I wanted them all dead. Quickly. And I believe that’s a new record for me. The ending is about as lackluster and anti-climactic as its gets, but it did finally end and I’m pretty sure that’s a good thing. Add to that a severe lack of the red stuff, a killer that’s more sad than scary, and a script we’ve all seen before and done far better, and you’ve got a prime example of what’s truly lost from this sub-genre. An irritating, vapid, inept, and boring example.
Like my real prom, I should have just refused this one and went drinking with my pals instead.