Format: Watch Party
Director: Paul Lynch
We decided to watch another Jamie Lee Curtis movie for a Friday party watch. This one is a post-Halloween JLC, when I guess folks pegged her as a scream queen. But this is JLC, so she never really screams, she just kind of kicks ass when she's drawn into the action.
I'd not previously seen Prom Night. When Prom Night II was meme-ing a while back, I tried to watch it first, even though the two are utterly unrelated. At that time, the movie wasn't available for some reason, but now it is, and while a career retrospective of an actor like JLC who is constantly working is difficult, why not try to check off the boxes?
The actual plot of the movie, if you break down what it is, is really good. I liked it. But, man, the execution was all over the place. Some parts were really solid, and some just dragged on when the outcome of, say, a girl chased by a killer, is never in doubt. At this point in the slasher cycle, I assume the audiences would know that? I dunno. I was 5.
The set up is that a bunch of kids are playing in an empty building in 1972 and one of the little kids, while playing a tag-like game, falls from a window to her death. Because kids are all sociopaths, they make a pact to never tell anyone they were there and the death is supposed to be tied to a child molester who escapes.
So, there's a lot going on in the first ten minutes.
Flash forward to 8 years later as the kids are getting ready for prom, the death of the girl remembered on the anniversary - and maybe that molester guy has returned?
Anyway - all of that is gold, and possibly culled from the story the movie is based on. But, man, the movie itself is kind of weird and draggy from the set up to the last 30 minutes or so, which is really pretty good. Consequently, there's 45 minutes of the world's boringest 20-somethings posing as teens, romantic rivalries that only kinda work, a Carrie-ish riff from a meangirl, and maybe too many characters who only ever raise up to the mark of mildly interesting.
What you can see is that JLC kind of shines in the middle of all this without doing a lot. She's just got star power, and is projecting waves of energy, which culminates in a dance sequence at the prom (JLC can dance, apparently!) and then when she takes on the killer.
Leslie Nielsen is in this playing a straight role as JLC's dad and the principal of the school. I have literally no idea why he is in this. He only seems to have been there for a few days of shooting and gets top billing.
If the movie could have been as consistently good as the beginning and end, I'd recommend it. I can see why they went daffy with the sequel. This movie is, in many ways, a tragedy dressed up as a horror film, and it makes everything kind of a bummer as the thing wraps. But it's also not a police procedural, so I can see why it works as it does with high school kids at the center and cops at the periphery.