Movie Review - Stage Fright
Have you ever had to sit through an episode of Glee? I have. And if you're anything like me, within a few short minutes you started thinking that the show would be so much better if some masked murderer just started killing off the characters. Well, clearly I wasn't the only one. Jerome Stable's directorial debut, Stage Fright, is the episode of Glee that I always wanted to see. Completely tongue-in-cheek and intentionally campy, this film plays like a silly Broadway version of Friday the 13th, and somehow it works. The cast, which includes someone who already knows a little something about campy theatrical music - Meat Loaf, playfully pays homage to both horror and musical theater while sending up each genre in style. Available now on VOD and set for theatrical release on May 9th, I recommend this film to everyone, just because it's so much damn fun.
Kylie Swanson (Minnie Driver) is a Broadway star on the rise. On the opening night of her new musical, The Haunting of the Opera, she is murdered backstage by an unknown assailant wearing the mask of the play's villain, the Opera Ghost. Ten years later, her children Camilla (Allie MacDonald) and Buddy (Douglas Smith) are teenagers being raised by Roger McCall (Meat Loaf), a former lover of their mother and the producer of a musical theater summer camp. When Cammila hears that the camp will be producing a kabuki version of The Haunting of the Opera, she decides to audition for the show. Despite the fact that the camp staff is not supposed to be in the play, the director argues for casting Cammila against the wishes of Roger. But as opening night approaches and people start to disappear, it seems that the Opera Ghost has come back to kill again.
Stable's film is not particularly scary, in fact even the death scenes are comical, but he definitely doesn't shy away from serving up a substantial amount of gore in the process. And where all of the elements he blends together here could easily have fallen apart, he manages to find a balance and keep the tone of the film consistent throughout. In addition to his role as the director, Stable also co-wrote the highly entertaining music and lyrics with Eli Battalion, and the two make magic together. The composition is solid, and the lyrics do a fine job making us laugh while still furthering the narrative. I also thoroughly enjoyed the way that metal was infused into the Broadway style score when the killer appears onscreen, and thought it provided for some of the most enjoyable moments of the film. My favorite scene in particular, is when the Opera Ghost stops short of killing one of his victims so that he can pick up a guitar and shred a sick guitar solo. That should give you a pretty good indication of what you're going to be seeing when you watch this film.
The entire cast is phenomenal. Minnie Driver is fantastic in the explosive introduction to the film. Allie MacDonald is stellar, playing Cammila with all of the innocence and naivety of a shy teenage girl needed to make her fear feel believable, not to mention the fact that she has the singing voice of an angel. And last, but certainly to least, there's Mr. Meat Loaf Aday. He sings, he over-acts, and creeps his way through the film with a sleaze-ball type of charm that is sublime. Together the entire ensemble carries out the absurd story with a deadpan seriousness that is essential in selling the campiness, and in the end it amounts to a self-aware horror comedy gem.
At the end of the day, this is one of those films that you just have to see for yourself. But if you're a fan of horror, a fan of musical theater, a fan of the show Glee, or someone that hates the show Glee, there's still something here for everyone. Stage Fright is a good, light-hearted slasher film with huge musical numbers, costume changes, and Meat Loaf. What more could you ask for? Go find it on VOD or see it in the theaters May 9th. Cheers.
- Leo Francis