Stage Fright, 2014
Written and directed Jerome Sable
Starring Allie MacDonald, Douglas Smith, Kent Nolan, Brandon Uranowitz, Ephraim Ells, Melanie Leishman, Thomas Alderson, James McGowan, Meat Loaf and Minnie Driver
A snobby musical theater camp is terrorized by a blood-thirsty killer who hates musical theater.
If you took Friday the 13th, elements of Scream and the musical stylings of High School Musical and put them in a blood-filled blender with Meat Loaf, you’d get Stage Fright. It’s very fun, often hilarious and too silly for its own good at times.
Stage Fright opens with “the following is based on true events, while the names have been changed to protect the families, all song and dance routines are performed as they were,” so that should give you an idea of the movie’s tone. It’s very self-aware and features lots of obvious visual homages to horror movies of the past but doesn’t come off as forced as other attempts at this level of humour like Bride of Chucky for example. At times, Stage Fright feels like a spoof of horror comedies, but it’s not overtly trying to be one.
The film begins with a musical production of “The Haunting of the Opera” with the leading lady (played by Minnie Driver) being slaughtered backstage once the show has finished. Many years later and her two children are now working at Centre Stage, a musical theatre camp where “theatre dorks” can come together and put on a show. But when the camp leader and former manager of the dead mother decides to put The Haunting of the Opera on again, a killer who seems none too happy about it starts acting out his vengeance.
Stage Fright is posed as a musical horror movie, which is something you don’t see very often, but it remarkably fails at being one. After a wonderful opening number as the kids arrive at camp, we’re given a brief reprieve, a song about rehearsals and a song for the show, but then there aren’t really any other songs. The killer has one, but it’s not given the screen time it deserves and the rest of the songs are rehashes of songs we’ve already heard. Imagine if Little Shop of Horrors didn’t have “Mean Green Mother From Outer Space” or “Suddenly Seymour” and only featured “Down Town”, it wouldn’t be remembered so well, nor would it be thought of as a musical. You’ll want to buy the soundtrack after the opening number, but it would be a very shot lived affair. Perhaps it’s just because the opening number was so good, but Stage Fright really needed to have more songs.
But the film does work as a middle-of-the-road slasher comedy and the bloodshed on show is marvellous. The killer has a creative look and the practical and special effects are all great. But as it is with songs, there aren’t really enough deaths for this to be a truly great slasher. However the film’s light and fun tone means that you don’t feel short changed – even when the killer’s identity is as clear as day.
Stage Fright is not a great movie, but it’s a lot of fun and is actually better than a lot of modern day slashers that are trying to be serious. A few more musical numbers and a bigger death toll could have pushed the rating up, but for what it is Stage Fright is a hilarious riot.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.