STAGE FRIGHT [FRIGHTFEST 2014]

PrintE-mail Written by Joel Harley

MOVIE REVIEW: STAGE FRIGHT /CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: JEROME SABLE / SCREENPLAY: JEROME SABLE / STARRING: MEAT LOAF, MINNIE DRIVER, ALLIE MACDONALD / RELEASE DATE: TBC

A gory slasher movie set at an American camp, with a masked serial killer offing the residents, one by one. Oh, and it's also a musical. Oh, and it stars the mighty Meat Loaf as the camp's proprietor. Let's be honest, we lost a lot of you at 'musical', didn't I?

You're not alone – screened at FrightFest, Stage Fright shed a good number of viewers during the first ten minutes, scarpering during the film's first big song and dance number. Those who stick with it were and will be treated to one of the most delightfully theatrical slasher movies ever made. It's essentially Friday the 13th meets Glee, and makes no apologies for what that might entail. Like Glee and the music of Meat Loaf, this is a film you're either going to love or loathe.

Following the death of her opera singer mother, Camilla Swanson (MacDonald) is taken in by producer Roger McCall (The Loaf) who relocates her and her brother to his stage camp ('camp' being the operative word), populated by musical g(l)eeks and snobby brats. In the run up to their production of an imitation Phantom of the Opera, Camilla throws her name into the hat for the lead. This brings her mother's killer out of retirement, and it's not long before kids are being bumped off, one at a time, by a serial killer who really, really hates musicals.

Stage Fright is the first horror film in history to follow a Mean Girls reference (one which the crowd greeted with peals of laughter, by the way) with a Texas Chain Saw Massacre homage. The camp musical element is definitely favoured over the slasher part (particularly during the obvious denouement) but writer and director Jerome Sable isn't afraid to bring the goods when needs be. Opening with the brutal slaying of Minnie Driver (!) and punctuating its story with frequent, splattery murders, it's Dario Argento's Opera as filtered through High School Musical. Neither element is exploited to its fullest – its not as dark as Sweeney Todd, catchy as The Rocky Horror Picture Show or bizarre as Repo: The Genetic Opera – but it is very funny and really well made. Your tolerance may vary, however.

Love it or hate it, there's no denying that Stage Fright is one of the most gleefully original slasher films we've had in years. It takes a special sort to appreciate Stage Fright, but those who do should adore it. Bravo!

Expected Rating: 8 out of 10

Actual Rating:



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