Director: Jerome Sable
Screenplay: Jerome Sable
Starring: Minnie Driver, Allie MacDonald. Meat Loaf, Douglas Smith
Producer: Ari Lantos, Jonas Bell Pasht.
Running Time: 98 min
BBFC Certificate: TBC
I’m hoping for another ‘Suck’, will Stage Fright deliver, as it discordantly lurches between Glee and ‘Michael Myers’?
Kylie Swanson (Minnie Driver) plays to a packed house in the stage show ‘The Haunting of the Opera’. Kylie is the up and coming star and Roger McCall (Meatloaf) is her producer. The world is at her feet as the audience give her a standing ovation. Unfortunately events take a turn for the worse, after the show a white masked assailant seduces Kylie and quickly gets to work hacking her to death amidst glorious gouts of blood.
Leap ten years on and we find ourselves in a musical parody of Glee packed with overly kitsch songs regarding the hardships of being theatrical. Kylie’s daughter, Camilla (Allie MacDonald) and son, Buddy (Douglas Smith) are working at a children’s camp which has been set up by “has been” Roger McCall. Camilla and Buddy have lowly jobs working in the kitchen but Camilla wants more, she wants a lead part in this year’s summer camp production, a new version of ‘The Haunting of the Opera’.
Camilla takes the audition for this year’s summer camp show, her performance is mesmerising, even though she is the camp cook and should not be allowed to audition over the other paying campers. Interestingly, the jolly Glee kids are creepier than many a horror movie monster, in their struggle to be stars, even Camilla’s sacred picture of her murdered mother is destroyed, by an unknown thespian. Amidst the unsettling atmosphere, a mystery is beginning to develop, there is a psycho creeping around the camp, could it be shunned lighting guy or creepy maintenance bloke?
Camilla has landed her role in the play but the slimy director Artie Getz (Brandon Uranowitz) still wants extra favours. Camilla must surrender to his advances otherwise he won’t be putting her name forward as lead role. His behaviour has certainly offended someone because fairly soon he’s dodging falling stage lights and we are delighted with some chiropody-gore. A metal sound-track livens up the mood and we can enjoy the demise of slimy pervert director by gruesome light bulb death. The death of the director is soon the talk of the camp, Camilla and the other kids are shaken up by the grisly death and don’t want to go on with the show. Roger bursts into song and gets the kids to carry on with the performance, putting the stage show before his responsibilities to phone the cops.
Roger is keeping the stage show on, as planned, because a big cheese producer, Victor Brady is driving from the city to review the show; this could be Roger’s big break and his last chance to get back into the big time. Unfortunately for just about everyone the deranged mask wearing loon is on the prowl, touting some funny one-liners, nailing a girls head in Pinhead style, exclaiming “Nailed It” and boiling another in a scalding hot shower exhorting “Let me help you warm up”. It’s hard to keep up with the body count at this point, they are piling up fast and furious, intermingled with heavy metal and plenty of blood-splatter, and we have stepped up a gear.
As we head towards the grand finale, even the masked freak has a song, we leap from one escape to another as Roger gets bound to a chair, Camila de-masks the slasher and the slasher strangles Roger. In amongst all the chaos we find out what and who is behind all the bloodshed, this night is to be dubbed ‘The Centre Stage Massacre’.
It’s been a year since the infamous ‘Centre Stage Massacre’ and Victor Brady gives us some useless advice “You can’t change the past, but what you can do, to move forward, do just this, do a musical”. Camilla is on stage where she feels she belongs, following in her mother’s footsteps, but we are left wondering if all is going to end well, as she flashes back to the slashing kook, leaving us uncertain of Camilla’s future.
There are some amusing references to Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Crow, Carrie and more. Some have criticised the horror homages, but this is part of horror and something I always enjoy. The acting is faultless and there is some highly enjoyable splatter, ‘Dexter’ would be proud, the glee-slasher mishmash is also a great concept. This cross genre is always a brave move and I get it, but did it hit the mark, for me, it fell a bit short, but maybe I’ve set the bar too high, as it looked so promising.
The singing and theatrics mix with slasher was always going to be a tricky one and still worth a watch if you want something different, it certainly stands out from the crowd.
Stage Fright is out on DVD in the UK on 26th January 2015. I watched it on a Vimeo link so I can’t comment on the picture/audio quality or the special features.