It’s been two years since I last reviewed a film from Lifetime. In 2018, I talked about the remake of The Bad Seed. I ended up liking the movie more than I thought I would. Since then, I haven’t gotten around to reviewing any of Lifetime’s films. Yesterday, I saw a newer release titled Killer Prom. What caught my attention was the synopsis. The idea of a mystery/thriller revolving around prom is something I had never seen Lifetime do before. As I’ve said in the past, I have never seen a movie about the prom that was actually good. So, I was hoping Lifetime would finally deliver a good prom movie. Reviewing this movie now is also quite fitting, as prom season would normally take place around this time. But, because of the Coronavirus, proms all over the United States were cancelled.
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: When I reviewed The Crow, I mentioned how, through his performance, Michael Wincott was able to show how manipulative Top Dollar can be. To an extent, Yvonne Zima’s portrayal of Sienna reminded me of Michael’s portrayal of Top Dollar. This was because Yvonne was able to use various emotions to make her character appear chameleon-like. With a sinister tone included, Sienna was unsettling to watch on screen. In films like Killer Prom, it can be easy for a young actor or actress to be told or directed to act in a way that makes their teenage character come across as stereotypical. What I liked about Erica Anderson’s portrayal of Maya is how realistic the character seemed. Erica, along with the screen-writing, did a good job at presenting the character as likable with a bit of angst. This made it easy for me to root for Maya!
The Wilson family’s house: Most of the movie takes place at the Wilson family’s house, as Sienna stays with the Wilsons for a certain period of time. This location was visually appealing because it had a consistent and photogenic style throughout the space! The exterior architecture was modern with a white and gray color scheme. Inside the house, this style was reflected in various rooms. The kitchen was also white and gray, appearing sleek with its shiny cabinets and stainless-steel appliances. While this color scheme and style is shown in other areas of the house, certain design choices catch the viewer’s eye. The first is the use of circles, from the circle shaped mirrors on a wall to the “bubble lights” over a dining room table. The second was the splash of blue in the artwork and the sofa’s pillows. Choices like these make these spaces interesting to look at!
The dream prom sequences: At various moments in the film, dream sequences are projected from Sienna’s mind. These dreams showcase her idea of prom. The scenes are presented with a faded lens that makes the images look softer, but not too blurry. The lights are dim and there is a sparkly curtain in the background. Because of these elements, it gave off a vibe that would have belonged in the ‘80s or ‘90s. Because these dream sequences are coming from a character who is reflecting on a time gone by, the appearance of this vibe makes sense.
What I didn’t like about the film:
A formulaic plot: When I read the synopsis, I was led to believe the protagonist would either volunteer on her former high school’s prom committee or chaperone at the school’s prom in an attempt to live out her dream prom experience through the students. In reality, Killer Prom is an “unstable-person-trying-to-insert-themselves-in-someone-else’s-life” story. This kind of story is as common on Lifetime as the “woman from the city coming back to her small hometown” cliché is on Hallmark; if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. Because of the formulaic nature of the plot, it made the story more predictable than it needed to be.
The under-utilization of prom: Since this movie is called Killer Prom, I was expecting this event to play a significant role in the overall narrative. Sadly, it was treated as an afterthought. While it was mentioned on several occasions and preparations are made for the event, the prom itself is never shown on screen. Instead, more emphasis was placed on Sienna’s attempts to win over Maya’s dad, Tony. It felt like the prom was placed in the story for the sake of having an event take place in the plot.
Sienna’s backstory: In movies like Killer Prom, the villainous character is given a backstory to explain who they are and why they make certain choices. The build-up toward Sienna’s backstory was leading me to believe it would be memorably traumatic and shocking. When this was finally revealed, it felt no different from any other villainous backstory Lifetime has presented before. The pay-off this backstory was building up to was very under-whelming. If anything, Sienna’s backstory could be summarized in a sentence or less.
My overall impression:
In the introduction, I said I have never seen a movie about the prom that was actually good. Unfortunately, Killer Prom isn’t going to change that. At best, this is a fine, run-of-the-mill Lifetime movie. I found the overall story intriguing enough to hold my interest. But, at worst, it is a formulaic story with a new coat of paint. I was hoping the concept of prom would serve as commentary for how a person’s experiences in high school can shape their overall perspective. This unique creative decision was not chosen, as it seemed like the network emphasized formula over creativity. It’s a shame, because it could have made the project thought-provoking. If any other event had been placed in this movie, it wouldn’t make a difference. Guess I have to go back to square one in my search for a good prom movie.
Overall score: 7 out of 10
Do you watch Lifetime’s movies? Would you like to recommend any of their films to me? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!