Prom Ride (2015) **
D: Kazeem Molake
C: Victoria Levine, Joseph Rich, Joi Liaye, Noah Nevins, Byron Thomas, Ariella Rose, Deanna Pak, Heather Paige Cohn, Omar Gooding, Theresa Ireland, Greg Gilardi, Lincoln Testro
Plot Synopsis: A night of elegance and rejoicing is what a group of high school seniors were expecting on their prom night, but when a psychotic killer hijacks their stretch limo, he's determined to have them Dead On Arrival.
Review: Prom Ride starts out so right, that when it goes wrong, it's all the more disappointing. In it, a group of high school friends, on their way to Prom, are token hostage by a madman who forces them into a series of mind games and various tortures reminiscent of Saw.
Before they get to the Saw inspired part, the first act is made up of scenes showing the friends as they get ready for Prom. The larger majority of the first act is shot in a pseudo documentary style reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project and to great effect. It gives everything that's happening an air of authenticity. The teen characters look & behave like teens you would know in real life. There's some nice character development. The dialogue doesn't feel forced. The cast is appealing.
It's when they change gears, to chart into Saw territory, that things go awry. Almost immediately, you can sense something going click, like someone turning off a light switch, but, in this case, that they turned off the light switch to this movie. From there, it's one gratuitous scene of torture after another. Initially, I thought that might be trying to create a juxtaposition effect of a harder edge against the lighthearted approach of the first act. However, Prom Ride isn't that smart.
When all is said & done, this is a tale of revenge. Now, I will NOT give away the who & why, but I will say that when the why? is revealed, it's a groan inducing moment. It's one of those instances that makes you want to look to the heavens, in bewilderment, and go REALLY?!? It's so far fetched & implausible that even the most undemanding of viewers will not buy it for a second.
Even the people behind this production realized how preposterous this comes across. So, in a last ditch attempt to sell viewers on this scenario, they've tacked on an opening title card to informs viewers that the events depicted were based on a true story. Whether that's true or not, doesn't make the who and why any less implausible, at least in terms of creating a movie. To the credit of the cast, they remain present and give it a solid go. In particular, Noah Nevins (for sheer tenacity) & Joi Liaye (for bringing cohesion to a role that's all over the place emotionally) deserve extra praise for their turns. However, their efforts can't camouflage the inherent weakness of the material.
When looking up the credits, on IMDB, Prom Ride currently holds a 3.4 rating. It's not that bad. In all actuality, it's an OK movie. I have a sneaking suspicion that viewers gave it a low rating over being angered in investing in it, only for it throw out a solid start in favor of something ill conceived. This is a textbook example of a movie that starts out right, but ends up alienating its audience. [Not Rated] 88 minutes.
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