Unpopular Opinion: Take a Slash at “Prom Night” (2008)

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This remake of the 1980 Jamie Lee Curtis slasher is considered one of the most hated horror film amongst the horror community. Hearing the various reasons, it is understandable. However, I am stepping up the plate and admitting that I personally really enjoy this film, much more so than the original. I can only imagine how much outrage this will cause, but this is my unpopular opinion piece.

So the basic story here is a teacher becomes obsessed with a female students and ends up murdering her family in order to get to her. He gets arrested and years later he breaks out and comes back for her on her prom night, killing anyone who gets in his way. It definitely sounds like a Lifetime movie, but technically when you take the basic plot of Halloween, you could say the same thing. The original involves the death of a young girl accidentally caused by the child classmates of hers. Years later, someone is out for revenge against the kids…on their prom night! Let me start by saying that I still enjoy the original Prom Night, it has its fun moments, and of course there’s Jamie Lee Curtis, but bare in mind I’m not trying to bash it.

My first defense of the Prom Night remake is that the overall plot and situation is much more frightening. Even though a man in an all black outfit chasing after you with an ax is pretty scary, there’s just something more terrifying about someone who is so crazed that he doesn’t even disguise himself to come after you. Not to mention a stalker who murdered your family to take you away. The way Johnathan Schaech carries the character makes it extra creepy. While we’re on the topic of the killer, I just gotta say that between the two, I would much rather have seen an unmasked known killer going around killing people, than a killer that is predictable from the get-go in the original. Unlike most revenge slashers of the 80s, there was at least a sense of mystery, this most certainly wasn’t the case here.

Next there are the main group of teenagers. The original had teens that were pretty unlikable with the exception of Jamie’s character and her love interest. In the remake, the friends may not be astounding, but they come off as likable, with the character of Michael being the only real douchebag. I enjoyed the chemistry amongst the actors and they came off as real friends, so it was almost sad to see them killed off. Sure they had traits that made them unlikable at times, but that’s teenagers for you. Included in these characters are the main leads. Brittany Snow stars as the main character Donna who is the prime target of the killer. I will say there’s no defense of Donna as a final girl, she is very weak, and very whiney. This may not be a defense but bare with me here. Jamie Lee Curtis in the original only came off as the lead because she was the big name of the cast, but in all reality, she might as well have not been in the film. Her character is never in any real danger and has no real purpose other than to take down the killer at the end. It’s Jamie’s love interest and the other teens who are actually the main characters. So while Donna is a shitty final girl, she at least has a purpose and is actually a target.

Finally, and probably the biggest thing that makes horror fans hate the film, is the fact that it’s a PG-13 slasher. When I think about it, the original film could easily just have been PG-13, the kills are hardly that bloody or massively graphic. In the remake, while there is an absent of blood, there isn’t that much of a difference in terms of the blood/gore factor between the two.

Yes, the best part about slashers are the excellent kills, but when I think about it, as long as we get a body count and the kills are on-screen, it’s hardly the end of the world. There are several horror films where the kills are completely off-screen that are rated R even (Chernobyl Diaries and even the original Friday the 13th had off-screen deaths with no blood shown). There is minimal blood shown in the remake, but point being we’re still seeing these characters getting stabbed and slashed right on screen. Am I asking for more PG-13 slashers? Hell no, but if they will actually show on-screen deaths with not much blood, it’s semi-forgivable, even if it’s not preferable. On a final note, the original had the amazing chase scene with Wendy, but no real pay off when she dies. In the remake we get a small chase scene, with a pay off seeing Lisa (my personal favorite of the characters) getting her throat slashed and blood splattered at the screen. So it’s fairly even ground there.

So while the original Prom Night has its moments where it’s enjoyable, there are more reasons in which I found the remake more enjoyable and tolerable, even if it’s still at the bottom of the totem pole of slasher films. Bring on the backlash!

–Cody Landman