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Blonde-haired beauty Donna and her gal-pals are very excited about senior prom. They've chosen their dresses, had their hair done and are all aflutter about the heavy breathing their beauty will surely induce. This will be one dreamy night, they think.
But Donna is a little distracted. Recently her dreamy nights have been filled with recurring nightmares of when her family was murdered. She relives coming home from a movie to find an obsessed teacher named Richard Fenton rampaging in search of her.
And though he was sent to prison years ago, she's certain that she's caught glimpses of the madman around town. Donna's psychologist assures her that her fears are natural but unfounded. Still, the tormented teen can't seem to get the psychopath out of her head.
When prom night arrives, Donna throws her fears aside and joins her friends in their rented limo. They head to the historic Pacific Grand Hotel for the "best night of their lives." But for some of them, this will be the last night of their lives. You see, the knife-wielding killer, Fenton, has made a bloody escape from his maximum security asylum. And he could be on his way to find his favorite blonde who got away. In fact, isn't that him ... behind you right now?!!
Donna has a number of good people supporting her. After her parents were killed, her aunt and uncle took her in and became loving guardians. She adores them in kind. Donna's boyfriend, Bobby, is a handsome young man who supports her at every turn. When she says she wants to give up her scholarship at a prestigious university to stay near him, he encourages her to make the best choice for her. She worries about their feelings waning with distance, but he assures her, "If this is real, it's gonna last."
When Uncle Jack approaches Bobby about negative sexual choices that could be made during the evening, Bobby respectfully says, "I know, sir, you have nothing to worry about." And he lives up to his promise. When the killer presents himself, Bobby also does everything he can to protect Donna, putting himself between her and him.
Donna's best friend, Lisa, recognizes Fenton in the hotel, and she runs to try to warn Donna—putting her own life at risk. Donna's mother chooses to die rather than tell the murderer where her daughter is.
While Bobby and Donna are held up as an example of a young couple who purposely steer clear of temptation and earnestly care for one another, other students renting hotel rooms for after-prom "festivities" are accepted without a blink from adult chaperones or hotel staff members. Girls wear gowns boasting plunging necklines that reveal quite a bit of their breasts. And speaking of dresses, Lisa says her boyfriend's "gonna love me even more out of it." Donna wears a camisole top with pajama bottoms to bed.
On several occasions all of the three central couples kiss their respective partners. The girls talk about their boyfriends planning on having sex. Lisa and her boyfriend begin kissing while lying clothed on the bed in their hotel room. It appears that they intend to go further, but are interrupted.
Students make comments that imply a female gym teacher is attracted to a female student. When three female students ride together in the hotel elevator, several older men ogle them and invite them to a party in their room.
This being a slasher flick, people are killed in a multitude of violent ways. Stabbings. Throat slashings. Stranglings. Shootings. This being the PG-13 variety of said slasher flick, we see general movement and several quick views of blood spattering on a wall or plastic sheet, but are spared lingering shots of up-close gore and copious blood flow.
Examples: Fenton grabs a young girl by the throat and chokes her while dragging her into an adjoining bedroom. He throws her to the floor and stabs her several times in the stomach. Fenton holds Donna with a knife to her throat. Donna kicks him repeatedly in the face in an effort to escape. And in one of the film's most intense scenes, Donna watches her mother's murder from only a foot away while hiding under her brother's bed.
The dead are shown with a small amount of blood on their mouths or throats and blood stains on their shirts to indicate stabs wounds.
Crude or Profane Language
Two s-words. "H---" is trotted out close to 10 times, and "d--n," "b--ch" and "b--tard" combine for another 10. God's and Jesus' names are both taken in vain. God's is combined with "d--n."
Drug and Alcohol Content
Students pull a keg of beer in through a hotel bedroom window. Several partying youths carry and drink from bottles or flasks they stash in their coats. (A chaperone snags a bottle from one student.)
Donna takes some prescribed meds for stress. Friend Claire takes over-the-counter medication for her menstrual cramps.
Other Negative Elements
Jump scenes abound, caused by everything from stumbles in the dark over stacked paint cans to faces popping up in a mirror. The police and Donna's aunt and uncle make the unwise choice of letting the kids continue their prom after they know a killer is running loose. That's not surprising in this context since the cops are depicted as all-around incompetents.
Back in 1980 a movie called Prom Night, starring teen scream-queen Jamie Lee Curtis, made a brief stop in theaters. This modern version is not a remake of that, though. Filmmakers have simply dusted off the title and reshaped the basic idea of a crazy dude terrorizing nicely dressed high schoolers. But just because it's technically not a remake doesn't mean there's much difference between the current Prom Night and its nearly 30-year-old predecessor. For that matter, there's not much difference between it and any of the dozens of other jump-scene-laden B movie slashers that have been cranked out in the meantime.
This one has a nice sparkly veneer and a new bunch of fresh-faced kids in the cast. (Well, some of them are kids. Star Brittany Snow is already 22.) And it refrains from going in close for every knife thrust and blood spurt. But the creaking doors, muffled screams, bloody spatter, teary fright and glazed-eyed killer seem to me to be exactly the same.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Brittany Snow as Donna; Scott Porter as Bobby; Jessica Stroup as Claire; Dana Davis as Lisa; Idris Elba as Detective Winn
Nelson McCormick ( )