There ought to be a rule, stashed in the Screen Actor's Guild bylaws, that every actor cast as a villain in a slasher film has to watch "Psycho" and write a paper on Anthony Perkins.
"Psycho Killers with Character: The Tony Perkins Way."
Johnathan Schaech could have used a few Perkins pointers. He makes the blandest slasher in years in a desultory remake of "Prom Night," that 1980 dead-teen pic about corsages, cummerbunds and cutlery. Schaech, who hit his career high with Tom Hanks' "That Thing You Do" in the last millennium, plays Fenton, the obsessed, psychotic teacher pursuing his dream girl-student in this slow, obvious and pulse-deadening thriller.
Brittany Snow is Donna, the girl who survived the day teacher went nuts three years before. He killed her family. She hid under the bed and watched her mother's death throes.
And now, on her prom night, Fenton has busted out of prison. He's made his way to Bridgeport High's prom at the Pacific Grand Hotel. And he's patient enough to work his way through Donna's pals and assorted hotel employees until he gets his chance with the girl who didn't fight back. Last time.
The script is a C-paper in high school composition class, an illogical plot of bloody bodies the killer keeps successfully hiding in mere seconds, dialogue filled with phrases like "Your prom is a memory you will always want to remember." Briane Davis, as Crissy, the mean rich girl, has the only good line, about her date for the night:
"If he were any dumber I'd have to water him."
Idris Elba is the stoic cop who only finds out the killer's on his way there after the DJ has dropped his first mix. Jessica Stroup, Scott Porter, Dana Davis, Briane Davis and others play the barely-sketched-in high school "types." None of them brings much life to this leaden affair, a movie that takes an hour to get going. And "get going" in this case means picking up the pace from a crawl to a good brisk walk, the kind senior citizens take around the mall first thing in the morning.
Worst of all is the way the script has been tampered with. In the original, the killer was seeking revenge on teens who had caused a death. Guilt and remorse worked their way into a movie that, while it was no classic, at least gave Jamie Lee Curtis a reason to scream.
Prom night is a night you're supposed to treasure, or at least remember "forever." This one is forgotten by the time you throw your empty popcorn bucket into the trash cans conveniently located near the exits on your way out.
See the trailer and find local showtimes for "Prom Night."