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Donna's senior prom is supposed to be the best night of her life. After surviving a horrible tragedy, she has finally moved on and is enjoying her last year of high school. Surrounded by her best friends, she should be safe from the horrors of her past. But when the night turns deadly, there is only one person who could be responsible... a man she thought was gone forever. Now, Donna and her friends must find a way to escape the sadistic rampage of an obsessed killer, and survive a night "to die for."
For more about Prom Night and the Prom Night Blu-ray release, see Prom Night Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on September 2, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Brittany Snow, Scott Porter (III), Jessica Stroup, Dana Davis, Collins Pennie, Kelly Blatz
Director: Nelson McCormick
» See full cast & crew
Prom Night Blu-ray Review
This watered down teen slasher is a bit better than anticipated.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, September 2, 2008
The memories of that night will come and go and fade with time but you will never forget it.
It could almost be considered a minor form of torture to review The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior and Prom Night consecutively. Fortunately, while Prom Night is no great shakes, it's so remarkably better than The Scorpion King 2 that I hope I remain objective in reviewing it, because if these were the only two movies in the world, this one would look like Citizen Kane next to that direct-to-video nonsense which is TSK2:ROAW (there's an acronym that won't have much play). Prom Night did hold my interest throughout, and it was never a great struggle to have to sit through it, which is in and of itself a major triumph for the film. Generally, these kinds of movies leave me bored out of my mind about a third of the way through. If nothing else, the disc's main menu had me hooked. The music was good for what I fully expected to be a typical teen slasher flick with minimal violence and plot. The visuals that looped over the menu and the content of the movie that runs at a brisk 89 minutes backed up my suspicions, but I guess pumping out the good music over the menu would be like hiding a moldy cake with a fresh can of frosting. Luckily, Prom Night is still edible, but it's not quite as good as a freshly baked and heavily frosted delight, replete with plenty of ice cream on the side.
Donna Keppel (Brittany Snow, Hairspray) is a graduating senior dealing with the murder of her family some three years after the incident, doing so with long therapy sessions and large doses of anxiety pills. One of Donna's high school teachers, Richard Fenton (Johnathon Schaech, 8mm 2), was charged with murdering her parents. Much the the chagrin of the Detective Finn (Idris Elba, 28 Weeks Later), who worked the case, the court spares Fenton the death penalty. Doing the best to put the past behind her, Donna prepares to attend the senior prom with her boyfriend Bobby (Scott Porter, TV's "Friday Night Lights") and a quartet of her closest friends. Unfortunately, Fenton has escaped from the asylum where he's been serving his sentence, and he's out to finish the job he did not complete three years prior. Fenton infiltrates the hotel where the prom is being held, picking off anyone in his way. He murders Donna's friends, one-by-one. The diminishing group of survivors gradually begin to piece together what's going on. Meanwhile, Detective Winn is frantically back on the case, hellbent on saving Donna's life and finishing off Fenton once and for all.
Prom Night is a generic teen slasher, and a watered down one at that, but I found it oddly appealing and highly watchable nevertheless. It does do a few things outside convention, most notably being the fact that it doesn't hide the identity of the killer behind a mask or wait to reveal him until the final act of the film. Instead, we see Fenton only minutes into the movie, and later identify him as an imposing figure with a sharp blade in hand and a ball cap pulled down over his eyes. He's not scary, and neither is the movie, but kudos to the writers and filmmakers for stepping outside the lines for once. Still, scene after scene is generic and predictable, evident from the get-go. The opening scene where Donna finds her family murdered is fairly trite and dull, and when it turns out to be a dream sequence, any shade of originality the film might have offered is quickly stripped away. Before I even began the movie, I quickly imagined ahead of time how the entire scenario would play out. I figured we'd see each of Donna's five friends in peril, alone, with the killer, with all of them buying the farm one way or the other. I predicted Donna's boyfriend to put up a good fight in defense of his girl, only to "heroically" lose the fight. Lastly, I expected the final shot of the movie to feature a bloodied and dazed Donna meandering down a street or corridor, seemingly the sole survivor of the film, only to have the killer jump out and doubtless kill her after the scene cuts to black. Perhaps it's because the film didn't delve completely into these clichés (and not at all for two of them, and only partly for one of them) that it surprised me.
Prom Night is also a fairly well-crafted movie. Nelson McCormick's direction features some interesting camera work that's noticeable without standing out as gimmicky, and this, along with a the film's brisk pace, makes it a notch or two better than it deserves to be. Hardcore slasher fans will likely be disappointed, however. Gore is nonexistent, the blood looks fake, and there is very little of it at that. The material borders on being PG-friendly, save for a scene or two (such as a slit throat), which is probably the material that earns this film the coveted "unrated" stature. There is next to no tension or nail-biting suspense, either. Also, the film's ending comes rather abruptly and without much fanfare, and it is a letdown after eighty-some minutes of decent entertainment. Still, it steps outside convention of what I expected, which, when it comes to a movie with a plot as dime store cheap as Prom Night's, is a welcome approach, whether I liked it or not.
Prom Night Blu-ray, Video Quality
Prom Night slashes onto Blu-ray with a fine looking 1080p, 2.40:1-framed transfer. Black levels are rock-solid throughout. Flesh tones are natural and pleasant, and the transfer sports a nice, film-like look. Detail is not impeccable, but it's strong. Facial detail in particular is nice. A scar on Brittany Snow's forehead never fails to stand out, which is not a bad thing because it makes her more human. Likewise, the first time we see a close-up of Fenton, his facial hair and blemishes stand out well and look very natural. Colors are strong and genuine; the various colors of prom dresses, the interiors of the hotel, and that of Donna's home, for example, look just fine. Textures aren't as well-defined as we've seen in other transfers, and there are rarely any moments in the film that beg you to reach out and touch something we see. Likewise, while the transfer is strong, it never leaps off the screen. There is a very subtle layer of grain over the image that never stands out and should not bother Blu-ray fans who would rather not see grain on their screens. Prom Night is a good-looking disc that should not disappoint anyone who chooses to watch it.
Prom Night Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Sony takes us to Prom Night with a decent Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless surround sound mix. Decent, tense music, fairly typical of the genre, but not bad, is heard throughout. The music pleasantly fills the room, and as it emanates from all the speakers, it creates a modicum of tension. Dialogue is a little weak in volume. During the prom sequences in chapter five, the music never dominates the dialogue. In fact, it comes across as rather subdued, but it does save dialogue clarity. However, the soundtrack suffers from sounding a bit unrealistic as a result. Granted, there is a fine line that must be placed just so in order to retain realism and allow audiences to hear dialogue (you know how it goes at loud parties where you have to shout right into someone's ear just to be heard), and Prom Night seems to turn down the ambient music a bit too much. During the scenes where music dominates the prom scenes, it sounds fine with solid, though infrequent, lows and a good surround presence. The music leaks into the back but remains focused across the front. There are some nice musical cues used as minor ambience during the more "tense" scenes of the movie. I'd definitely label music as the film's strong suit, not counting the popular music that plays during the prom scenes, but rather Paul Haslinger's (Shoot 'Em Up) score. This is a soundtrack that does its job but never goes above and beyond the call of duty.
Prom Night Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Although the movie is generally considered a flop, Sony went all-out to make this a feature-packed special edition. Leading things off is a feature-length commentary track with director Nelson McCormick and actors Brittany Snow and Johnathon Schaech. While providing decent information with each trying their best to impress and heap the praise on one another, and also on the rest of the cast and crew, the track becomes meddlesome rather quickly. Snow's scratchy voice begins to sound like fingernails on a chalk board after a while. McCormick provides the best information and delves more into the technical aspects of the film, such as where shots are filmed, a discussion of props used throughout the film (including the evolution of the killer's knife), and the change in pace the film's visuals underwent at a particular point in the film (beginning almost exactly one hour into the film). This track is for diehard fans only. Next is Bonus View Picture-In Picture Storyboard Track. Here, fans are treated to the film's storyboards as they pertain to each scene in the film. This is offered in an unobtrusive, small box on the bottom right hand corner of the screen.
Interactive Poll: Where is the Best Place to Hide a Body? is a throwaway online feature where fans can vote on where they would hide a body: in a bathtub, a car trunk, a deserted hotel floor, in a closet, in the ceiling, or under a bed. I voted for "in the ceiling," which currently ranks as the most popular choice at 63.6%. The rest of the BD-Live page features little more than a selection of trailers and a FAQ. A series of five deleted scenes (480p, 4:55) and an alternate ending (480p, 0:35) with optional director commentary are included, as is a gag reel (480p, 1:59). Next up is Bridgeport High Vikings Video Yearbook (480p, 5:36). This is a series of stills and video footage of the high school students that looks like footage shown on a screen during the film's prom sequences. Profile of a Killer (480p, 5:59) is a look at the motivations and actions of the film's killer as described by various members of the cast and crew. Gothic Spaces: Creating The Pacific Hotel (480p, 4:47) examines the film's primary set piece. Prom Night Photo Album: Real Prom Stories From the Cast (480p, 6:12) features the cast members discussing their own prom memories. Rounding out the extras are the film's trailer (1080p, 2:18), TV Spot (480p, 0:18), and additional trailers for You Don't Mess With the Zohan, Made of Honor, Vantage Point, Persepolis, The Other Boleyn Girl, 21, Across the Universe, Married Life, 30 Days of Night, Wind Chill, I Know Who Killed Me, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Starship Troopers 3: Marauder, Resident Evil: Degeneration, and a preview for a Playstation 3 game, Pain.
Prom Night Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I'll admit to enjoying Prom Night more than I had anticipated. It's far from original, but it follows formula very well and does a few things to set itself apart from the crowd. Groundbreaking cinema this is not, however. It's definitely drivel, but it is drivel done well, and if nothing else, the movie is mostly entertaining to watch. It's a "no harm, no foul" movie that really has no reason to exist, but since it's here, enjoy it for what it is. Sony's Blu-ray presentation of Prom Night is not exceptional, but it's good. Featuring a pleasant video quality, a decent lossless audio presentation, and far more supplements than a movie like this one deserves, the package, taken as a whole, is not that bad. I could see myself watching Prom Night again in a few years, maybe back-to-back with the older film of the same name starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Leslie Nielsen that I own on LaserDisc. I'd recommend Prom Night to the curious as a rental. You just might find it slightly more entertaining than expected.
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