Well, they saved the worst for last. Part 3 is a genuinely brilliant comedy-horror, full of great performances and an interesting twist on the supernatural killer genre; then, the producers decided people who’d work cheap were better than people who’d work good, and picked up Canadian TV director Clay Borris (“Highlander”, “Forever Knight”, “Rin Tin Tin: K-9 Cop”) and writer Richard Beattie (who, since 2012, has become Steven Seagal’s pet scriptwriter, it would seem) to produce something that would be nice and cheap and sort of look like a horror movie. Well, I bet they just bought the script off the shelf and made the absolute minimum number of tweaks to turn it into a Prom Night film, but you get the idea.
Mary Lou was obviously living happily in Hell with Alex, so she’s out of the series. And prom? Well, it’s expensive to hire all those extras and a gym for them to dance in, so there’s no prom in it! Four teenagers (Mark and Megan, one couple, and Laura and Jeff, the other) get dressed up as if they’re going, but get the limo to take them to Mark’s parents’ summer house, extremely remote and secluded, for a party. This is a spam-in-a-can movie!
We are actually getting ahead of ourselves a little, as the identity of the killer is revealed pretty much straight away, thus reducing the tension. The movie starts in 1957, for absolutely no reason whatsoever, and we see a priest – Father Jonas – brutally murder a young couple having sex in their car outside the prom, then sets fire to their car.
Father Jonas was abused by a priest as a child, and this has given him some severe psychological issues (obviously). The entire movie is a very strong indictment of the Catholic Church, to the point I wonder if it was financed by one of the other main religions, but this isn’t even the worst of it – rather than making sure he’s arrested, the local Church leaders spirit him away from the scene and lock him in a cellar for the next 35 years, keeping him drugged and tied to a bed. Remember this. 35 years, spent entirely tied to a bed.
In the present day, Jonas’ watcher / prison warden is getting old, so they hire a new Priest to take over. This guy, rather than do as he’s told, decides to stop giving Jonas his medication, plus he shaves off his beard and tries communicating with him. You might sort of expect this new Priest to be central to the denouement, but after the minimum possible wait, Jonas has busted out, getting right back to the killing. This new priest lasts a few minutes but nowhere near as long as you’d expect.
So, Jonas not only has the strength to murder people with his bare hands, after suffering no ill effects whatsoever from his incarceration, but also…hasn’t aged a day. What? If you’re going to not bother to such an extent, why have the first scene be from 1957? Why not have it be 6-7 years previously, like the first “Prom Night”? Bloody stupid. So, Jonas decides to go back to the church building he was first incarcerated in, which is unfortunately the same house our four partying teens are in. He gets pretty good with his hands later, too, building a couple of crosses strong enough to support full-sized burning humans (to preserve a vague sense of suspense, I won’t tell you which two).
Hopefully I’ve sketched a picture for you, and I’d like to add some colour. I need to assemble the paints, though (I’m already bored of this analogy, don’t worry) – the house itself, the time of year, and the stuff inside the house. So, Mark’s parents have bought a summer house, which is actually an enormous building (having once held dozens of monks, one assumes). How big is their actual house if they can afford something this enormous just to use in the summer? Talking of summer, snow is seen falling several times and there’s snow on the ground…prom traditionally happens around May or June, and I’m willing to bet there’s not a single place in the USA where snow falls then. It’s like they weren’t even trying! Mark even says “my family have locked it up for the season” – that season, presumably, being winter, the one they’re not in. Then there’s the stuff in the house – as they arrive, they find some stuff has been stolen, like the TV, the freezer, and other useful items (it’s not Jonas doing the stealing, as he arrives after our party-goers). They take the freezer but leave the huge pile of meat from inside it, which I’m willing to bet would be worth far more. They take a huge, heavy freezer, but leave the dozens of works of art on the walls, at least some of which must be worth something; and they also ignore the wine cellar full of what could be incredibly valuable bottles. Doesn’t make a lick of sense to me. Of course, as the teens aren’t supposed to be there, they decide not to phone the police to report the thefts.
What we’re left with for the last 75% of the movie is four “teens” getting killed by someone we know, thus removing the sort of tension that your average slasher movie relies on (there’s even a scene where the killer’s face is obscured, as if the cinematographer forgot that everyone knew who he was). You’ve got people behaving in dumb ways, like when the couple splits up despite the woman being in imminent danger – the bloke just saves himself (they don’t play it like he’s doing anything weird though).
As the movie goes out of its way to be anti-Catholic, it would have probably made more sense for Father Jonas to go after the church leaders who allowed his rapist to get away unpunished, and who were far more “sinful” than the mild-partying teens occupying his old house. But that would deviate from the slasher formula, and you can be damn certain that “Prom Night 4” does not deviate from that formula for one second. We just get yet another tediously conservative, anti-sex movie, where the only people who are punished are kids guilty of nothing more than giving in to their raging hormones.
The most famous face is Nicole deBoer as Megan, the Final Girl (“Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”, “The Dead Zone”); she’s also the sole interesting character, as her internal debate about whether to give up her virginity, and questioning her faith, is the only thing written with any care. She also has my favourite scene, where she does the dive-away-from-explosion thing, from an explosion which is a really long way away (still fun though). The two boyfriends are completely interchangeable, and even look alike, so when they’re both searching the house in the semi-darkness I genuinely had no idea who was who and where they were.
It’s not so much that it’s terrible, although it is, it’s the massive drop-off in quality. The first three “Prom Night” movies were at least interesting, and often great, with part 3 being one of my favourite horror-comedies ever; part 4 feels like a TV-movie version of a slasher, with not a bit of thought put in. Best avoided altogether.
Rating: thumbs down