Hollywood Hues
A horror of a horror

Ervell E. Menezes finds Prom Night substandard

Brittany Snow in a still from Nelson McCormik’s Prom Night
Brittany Snow in a still from Nelson McCormik’s Prom Night

Horror today is surely not what it used to be. Let alone the master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock. Even his successors knew how to deal with it, that is use the horror in small doses, the suspense in larger ones. Less was more then and that caused expectation to run high.

May be it all began with The Exorcist when Hollywood introduced a kind of staccato horror, sustained bouts of it, but then you had a believable story to go with it and an assortment of characters who were well rounded, not cardboard thin as in Prom Night where quite sadistically they choose a heroine Donna Keppel (Britanny Snow), a senior school girl, just recovering from the killing of her family by a psychotic teacher who wanted to keep her just for himself.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, you have the same killer (Jonathan Schaeck), just escaped from a maximum-security asylum and, believe it or not, coming back to get poor Donna. Generally, prom nights are the scene of campus romances but director Nelson McCormik decides to imbue that night of possible romance with horror — and reams and reams of it.

It doesn’t take long for the action to begin with Donna quite distraught at noticing the killer. From then on, it is just action, read blood and gore. That he leaves a trail of horror is not at all surprising. But the least he could do is imbue it with an iota of suspense.

Then, there are no subsidiary characters to share the action or even a credible plot for the narrative to be even remotely absorbing. The killings follow each other quite monotonously. By now, the viewer is quite sick of the story. What’s even worse — the victims succumb with little or no fight.

Much before the halfway mark the film begins to pall and all one looks forward to is the end, precisely because the film will come to an eventual stop.

Brittany Snow does his best to look credible but Jonathan Schaek doesn’t even possess that element of horror so necessary in this genre. He merely goes through the motions with very little emotion. If there was an element of suspense it must have reached the floor of the editing room with the result one is left with a totally, substandard horror film. A horror of a horror film is probably the best way to describe it.