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This is fucking monumental
I went to see Prom Night tonight. Now, this is a slightly-better-than-b-grade slasher flick not based on the 1980 movie of the same name. I was not going to it because I expected to be dazzled. I was not going to it because I expected anything at all really, but that I wanted to get out of the house and it was the only thing showing I had any mild interest in, strictly academic, because these types of movies as a genre interest me.

So I was not fucking expecting this movie to turn my head around and make me have a huge freaking epiphany about horror as a genre.

I literally left the theater shaking from the weight of all the thinking.

So, remember this post? A lot of you gave some really valuable feedback on the Final Girl phenomenon, but I realized we all missed a pivotal point.

What makes these movies scary is not that we think the heroine can't beat the murderer, which is what a lot of people suggested: the idea that if a male character were the protagonist, we would think he had more of a chance against them.

I now think it's more than that. Watching this movie, and yes, I'm spoiling it, because, well, this is the premise of the movie and you can read it in any review, there was a point when I realized that the movie was not frightening because I gave a shit about the teenagers who were running around getting killed. It was frightening because the man doing the killer was their teacher: someone who should have been protecting them, someone who should have been responsible for them.

And that made me think about the killer. And the killer's role. These movies-- we don't have a heroine because she seems more helpless. We always know the girl is going to kick ass. We have a heroine because it makes the villain seem more evil. Because it is about our fear of what we can become on a primal level, of the idea that our own emotions-- love, jealousy, vengeance-- might become so twisted that we would lash out against something we're supposed to protect. A man murdering a dozen men is not as scary as a man murdering an innocent young girl.

One thing that I do have to say for this movie, that really pleased me, is that it reversed the "have sex and you die" trope. The teenagers are victimized at their most vulnerable states, which helped elevate the sense of vulnerability= being betrayed by someone who should protect you and cut out the morality crap you so often get in teen slasher flicks. The rich bitch character? Survives the movie unharmed, when she is totally the stereotype of the first to die. The characters who die include: a girl who ditches her boyfriend when he is being an ass, said boyfriend when he tries to apologize for being an ass, and a girl after she turns down sex with her boyfriend. So, yeah, the opposite of what you usually get.

Don't get me wrong. It wasn't a great movie and I'm definitely not telling anyone to rush out and see it. But wow, did it ever make me think. I don't think I've ever had a mediocre movie make me think this much.

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I have a Hostel spoiler, so if you don't want to read my comment, I won't be offended.

That's what suprised me about Hostel; the good kid died. Here was this asshole who used girls just for sex, a shy virgin boy and a crazy foreigner, and who dies horribly? The shy virgin boy. I was really mad that the asshole survived because it seemed so unfair somehow. When I thought about it later, it seemed really weird because the deaths of everyone else in that movie didn't really upset me. Your post made me realise that breaking that horror movie stereotype was what got me.

I haven't seen Hostel. But that is what happens in Greg Araki's movies, too...of the three main characters, it's the sweet, well-meaning boy who gets killed horribly in Doom Generation. It's different, though, when you apply the theory to boys. Boys tend to get punished for being sexually 'weak' in a lot of movies.

I hadn't noticed that. Good point.

This is the part where we realize how many blood and guts movies I watch...

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Nope! I'm familiar with her, obviously, and I've read some excerpts of her work (not the whole book), but while I think she's onto something, something never quite jived with me about how she presents her research. I mean, part of that is just working from the perspective of someone almost forty years older than me and dealing with different treatment of women in her experience.

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That was another thing that Prom Night did that I thought was really fascinating. It starts out by establishing the protagonist as already being a Final Girl from another, previous murder spree, at the very beginning of the movie. So it was like going into this watching a sequel to a movie that was never made.

Weirdness! I kinda like the idea of the normal who dies stereotypes being turned on its head

I really liked that aspect of the movie. I wish that it would have been a bit better just so I could recommend it to people.

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I haven't seen Wrong Turn 2 OR the Final Destination movies, although I have been meaning to-- I think the premise is neat and I've heard they get seriously out there!

I tend to agree that Final Guys seem to work better in monster movies and things that play on the classic hero quest genre than they do in slasher movies.

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