SXSW 2014: STAGE FRIGHT Review

6.5

Film Pulse Score

Stage-Fright-Poster
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Release Date: April 3, 2014 (Limited and VOD)
Director:
MPAA Rating: R
Film Pulse Score: 6.5/10

As a general rule, I avoid everything that has to do with musicals, especially if they are horror related.  I’m not a fan of Rocky Horror and I couldn’t stand Sweeney Todd, Repo, and Don’t Go in the Woods.  That being said, I was trepidatious when venturing into Jerome Sable’s Stage Fright, but I was pleasantly surprised at just how fun this musical splatter-fest actually was.

The film takes place at a summer camp for theater geeks, where the best and the brightest young performers go to hone their craft and escape the rigorous bullying they all likely receive.  Meat Loaf plays the owner of the camp, who is trying to restart his Broadway career by performing a long lost show of The Haunting of the Opera which hasn’t been done since the original lead, played by Minnie Driver, was killed opening night. 

After her death, her twin children, Camilla and Buddy, played by Allie MacDonald and Douglas Smith go to live with Meat Loaf and become cooks at the camp.  After Camilla finds out what the show will be, she decides to follow in her mother’s footsteps and attempt to land the lead role, however things go terribly wrong when people begin dying one by one.

From it’s opening song, which is a terribly infectious and very funny, it’s clear that this is a film that isn’t going to take itself too seriously.  It’s a tongue in cheek throwback to classic summer camp slashers of the ’80s with the added feature of ridiculous musical numbers.  It’s completely over the top and proves to be way more effective than one might expect.

The excellent musical selections are really what helps Stage Fright succeed, with clever lyrics and some very fun performances.  While the opening number is by far the best, there’s a smattering of other solid songs throughout, and it’s not wall-to-wall music like Sweeney Todd, which I was extremely thankful for.  This is a film worth seeing just to witness Meat Loaf singing his heart out.

To juxtapose the happy go lucky singing by the campers, the killer has his own songs, which are loud, heavy metal pieces that are often injected into the other songs.  This layering of styles works quite well and helps add to the humor with the songs contradicting one another.

Stage Fright is a movie that on paper, would not appeal to me whatsoever but the over the top gore mixed with goofy song and dance numbers had me sold within the first ten minutes.  It would have been cool if the film actually took place in the ‘80s, as it would have really hammered in the classic slasher feel, but it still works as is.  I’m still not very fond of musical horror flicks, but if more are like this, I may be reformed.