Prom Night Blu-ray Review
PictureThe glitz and glamour of the film come over reasonably well with this MPEG-4 2.40:1 transfer. Clean and clear, and with a healthy veneer of slight, but consistent grain, Prom Night does not appear too troubled by encoding bugbears. It is not the sharpest image in town, indeed it has that overly warm and slightly softened look that gives it the appearance of a hi-def TV show, yet there is still plenty of detail on show.
Colours are marvellous, with lush greens, vibrant reds and blues and the wooden décor of the hotel suites suitably opulent and rich. Blood, what little of it there is, is nice and dark and skin tones are typically healthy. My check disc tended to err on the pinkish side of facial tones, but this seemed in-keeping with the general aesthetic.
Edges were, for the most part, nicely reined-in, although there were instances when some appeared to have been given a slight nudge of enhancement - heads and shoulders, primarily, and the killer's unexplainably annoying baseball cap. I wasn't distracted by any noise, blocking or smearing taking place, but there did appear to be occasions when some detail was lost amid the quite heavy blacks. Contrast is very good and shadow-play - be it internal in the hotel suites or in Donna's house, or outside in Nash's cop-car or the front of the Pacific Grand whilst confusion reigns as people search for friends - is always interesting.
Certain shots such as long views down hotel corridors or sweeping zooms up to a character possess a degree of three-dimensionality, but, on the whole, Prom Night doesn't really look all that alive in the way that many new films in 1080p do. This may have something to do with the rather flat style that McCormack tends to shoot a lot of the film in, though. Facial detail is pretty decent across the board, although hair is not quite as well delineated as I had expected. Still, if you are a fan of the film, I seriously doubt that you would find anything to complain about with this transfer.
SoundOkay, things still look up with the audio which, at least, provides a jolt or two and some real atmosphere even when the film, itself, struggles with such genre fundamentals.
What we get is a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track that very nicely embraces all of the channels, beefs ups the bass and provides some decent steerage to help keep us on our toes. And, believe me, this film needs all the help it can get as far as that goes. But, effects-wise, you won't find this track wanting. We get plenty of activity across the front, with a wide stereo spread that allows the hubbub of the party to flow with voices, music and all-round crowd noise bubbling through. Stingers crash through the soundscape, from musical jabs to jolting combinations of effects and music. Fenton's sudden appearances are aggressively handled with either rear support or nice directional charge across the front. The sound of the elevator grinding down the shaft or its doors pinging open is realistic and well-pronounced during moments of supposed high tension. A quite remarkable fluttering of birds fills the environment for one, admittedly, unexpected treat. And the fire alarm, with a voice as well as a Nostromo-esque electronic clamour, can come across with an authentically all-embracing cadence. The gunshots and harsh stabbings are pretty guttural too and, of course, the music of the prom can be fairly loud and pushed around the set-up to ensure that you feel as though you are there, at that strangely un-packed do.
Other moments of the soundtrack, such as the opening song, sound too “produced” and drown out other elements. But this is almost certainly intentional and not an error with the audio transfer. To be fair, the TrueHD does a fine job of putting some kind of life into the film, so there is nothing to complain about here.
ExtrasSony does seem to think that it's backed a winner, here. Prom Night has a fair bit of extra material to beef up the release. Sadly, though, none of it improves the experience of getting through this shoddy movie.
We get a commentary track from director McCormack, who is definitely under the impression that he has made something a little different from the norm, his leading lady, the incredibly annoying Brittany Snow and her violent paramour, himself, Jonathon Schaech. Now, I'll be honest, I didn't make it all the way through this sycophantic, back-slap-a-thon, I just dipped into various bits. Seemingly quite scene-specific, the three cajole and banter with giddy enthusiasm. For Snow, everything is “cute” and “cool” and her damn voice makes the teeth itch! For Schaech, everything was fun and exciting and he tries to make funnies at a few opportunities that only make you realise that he knows this is a clunker, but is contractually obliged to sit in on the communal chat. For McCormack, everything went incredibly well - what a cast, what a crew - and he revels in the apparent suspense that he created. Bad track, people. Bad track.
We get a picture-in-picture storyboard track that brings up little b/w box-outs in the corner of the screen during many sequences - even some incredibly dull talking head shots. Erm ... why did they bother with this? Just who the hell is going to sit and watch this movie again with McCormack's little sketches running alongside it? Well, yeah, okay ... me, obviously. The things I have to do to save you from suffering them ...
Next ridiculous feature is a BD-Live segment that allows you to vote on The Best Place To Hide A Body. Basically, you are given six options from the film down one side of the screen and selecting one will show you the body-discovery scene in full. You simply tick the hiding place - which is daft because ALL the bodies are found in the end - and then submit it. Oh, and the wonderful surprise is ... you can go online and see what won the poll! WOO-HOOO!
There are five Deleted Scenes, running for a total of 4.55 mins. Most of this just disposable guff that gives some of the lesser characters a bit more room to breathe - like the dopy and completely unnecessary prom-queen rivals - but we, aha, get to find out a bit more of how Fenton escaped his supposedly maximum security cell. However, this is conveyed to us by Elba in the most boring, half-asleep voice imaginable. And the 35-second Alternate Ending - huh? Just what is it exactly? You can clearly see why they ditched it.
The Gag Reel (2 mins) does provide a chuckle, though. Just the one, mind.
Next up is EPK-time, folks! The Making Of, entitled A Night To Remember (12.41 mins), is happy-smiley bland-bland land through and through. McCormack reinforces his stance about the prom being the death of innocence - like, profound, dude - and the cast wax lyrical about the suspense and the appeal of the script! Lots of praise falls around the shoulders of the DOP, and there is some mention of the arduousness of night-shoots when your agent has things lined-up for you the next day. Yawn. But the galling thing is the producer's and director's insistence that they have come up with something as powerful and profound as Phantom Of The Opera or Fatal Attraction.
Profile Of A Killer (6.00 mins) looks at the character of Richard Fenton, Biology teacher-turned-psycho, but tells us exactly nothing we needed to know.
Gothic Spaces: Creating The Pacific Grand Hotel is a five-minute look at the Park Plaza Hotel that stood in for the fictitious stalking ground of the film's main location. The cast and crew fawn over the opulence of the place and his high, regal ceilings and McCormack thanks his lucky stars that the place actually had an area that was still under construction that he could fully utilise.
Bridgeport High Vikings Video Yearbook is and Prom Night Photo Album: Real Prom Stories From The Cast are both as appalling as they sound. With a combined running time of around 11 mins, these featurettes may have seemed like quite novel ideas at the time - one is a quirky montage of hopes and aspirations from some of the cast and extras from the film, whilst the other is actual reminiscences from the actors regarding their party nights. Quite simply, who cares?
Folks, I know I have been hugely disparaging about the film and the extra features enhancing it, but this is trash and even if someone like me, who is always determined to find something of worth in any production, in the firm belief that no-one actually sets out to make a rubbish film (except for Uwe Boll), loses patience with a director and crew who so continually try to polish the proverbially un-polishable, then something is seriously wrong. Prom Night is garbage and nothing from behind its scenes is likely to convince you otherwise.
VerdictHalloween is fast approaching and the horror Blu-rays are sure piling up, but Prom Night is not something that you need to add to your collection. By now, it is almost as boring writing the same old clichés about such naff entries in the genre as it is actually sitting through them in the first place. The original Prom Night was an extremely poor offering in the stalk 'n' slash canon too, which naturally shouldn't have boded well for a remake, although updating a stinker should open up potential for considerable improvement at the same time. Anyway, to bring in the usual slagging-off blurb for such material, this is bloodless, frightless, witless and spineless - which should tell you that it is considerably less than worthwhile.
Sony's disc offers a very decent picture and a few smart audio jolts amongst the dance tracks. And, if you are, in fact, interested in what went into over-producing such a half-baked and derivative slice of offal as this, then you can dive into the EPK drivel that backs it up.
Prom Night sucks, however you cut it.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.99
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