Stage Fright is a horror musical.
If you’re still reading this, fantastic. It’s easy to dismiss Stage Fright off the bat as being a generic slasher with poorly done musical numbers as if it’s a long running sitcom. You’d be making a mistake though because the directorial debut of Jerome Sable is a ton of fun. Not only that it’s also very gory & dark when it needs to be.
The movie begins as Kylie Swanson (Minnie Driver) has just finished entertaining a packed-out theatre audience. She is the star of The Haunting of the Opera (basically The Phantom of the Opera) & is somewhat of a diva.
Her two young children, Camila & Buddy greet her backstage in her dressing room. Camila is in awe of her mother & adorably asks for her autograph. The two kids are ushered out when Roger McCall (Meat Loaf) arrives to speak to Kylie. He is her lover as well as being the producer of the show & he tells her that someone important watched her performance.
Roger leaves & shortly afterwards she is brutally murdered by someone wearing the mask of the shows villain, the Opera Ghost. When I say brutally, I mean it. She is stabbed numerous times in the throat in graphic fashion before the knife is shoved in her mouth. It’s unexpected & looks amazing.
10 years later & Roger has raised Camila (Allie MacDonald) & Buddy (Douglas Smith) at his failing musical theatre summer camp. They both work in the kitchens providing help for the campers who are arriving. This is where we finally get our first musical number & if you’re not grinning from ear to ear at the end of ‘We’re Gay’ then this isn’t the movie for you.
There are a lot of musical numbers from this point onwards.
Roger, in an attempt to try & save the camp decides to resurrect The Haunting of the Opera & have the campers play the parts. Artie (Brandon Uranowitz), his stage director decides to update it a bit by making a Kabuki (Japanese) version.
Camila hears this & decides to audition for the part that her mother played. Buddy is less then pleased about this & even Roger has his reservations. However, when she sings even the slimy Artie can’t help but be transfixed by her voice.
Everyone is stoked to be part of the play but unfortunately for them someone has plans to ruin the opening night. There is a killer on the loose & they don’t like musicals, unless it has a heavy metal soundtrack.
Stage Fright is great fun, you can see everyone having a good time in their roles & even when things turn darker (which they really do) you can tell the cast were enjoying themselves. It’s well acted & the musical numbers are really well performed. These songs will get stuck in your head.
Perhaps the greatest thing about Stage Fright’s musical side though is the Kabuki Opera Ghost moments. His voice, his singing, his guitar playing…it’s just utterly absurd but utterly fantastic. Even the end credits have him singing the songs from the movie but in his own unique style.
The story is well told even if it’s a bit too obvious who the killer is early on but that reveal isn’t that important in the end. You see Stage Fright has a twist that most will have not seen coming & it’s a good one.
Stage Fright lacks scares though, it’s the biggest drawback of the movie but it makes up for it with some very gory & realistic scenes. Feet being torn off, light-bulbs crushed inside mouths, scissors being shoved through backs & a circular saw to the gut…it’s violent stuff.
Throw in a bunch of fun horror movie references (seriously, see how many you can spot) & what you have here is an entertaining slasher horror musical that you’ll be talking about for ages afterwards.
The Final Score - 8.5/10
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