VOD REVIEW: STAGE FRIGHT / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: JEROME STABLE / SCREENPLAY: JEROME STABLE / STARRING: ALLIE MACDONALD, MEAT LOAF ADAY, DOUGLAS SMITH, MINNIE DRIVER / RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 26TH
Written and directed by Jerome Sable, Stage Fright is a bizarre, and completely mad, hybrid of musical, horror and comedy in which a starry-eyed teenager, Camilla Swanson (MacDonald), wants to follow in her late mother’s (Driver in a fleeting cameo) footsteps and become a Broadway diva. But instead, she’s stuck working in the kitchen of her stepfather’s (Aday) snobby performing arts camp. Determined to change her own destiny, she sneaks in to audition for the summer showcase, ‘The Haunting of the Opera’, and ends up landing the lead role. However, just as rehearsals begin, blood starts to spill, and Camilla, as well as everyone else at the camp, becomes terrorized by a homicidal masked killer.
When a horror movie is billed at being “Glee meets a slasher film,” it’s understandable why that might sound like movie kryptonite for certain audiences, but the remarkable thing about Stage Fright is how completely bonkers and all-over-the-shop the film is. To put it more accurately, Stage Fright is “Glee meets a slasher movie” on acid. Tonally, it goes off on many different tangents; one minute it’s dark, bloody and strange, yet next minute it’s jolly, light-hearted and filled with gags that sometimes don’t work. That means making a decision on two things: whether you go with the film or you don’t.
The film does make a lot of satirical stabs at musical theatre culture (parodying Phantom of the Opera), and it definitely subverts every horror movie cliché in the book (Friday the 13th, Carrie, etc.). These direct gags are surprisingly wittily punchy, yet sometimes the other gags can produce more sighs than laughs (“I’m gay for musicals”). The songs are for the most part surprisingly inventive, even though they don’t really stay with you as some of the more popular musical numbers do. This is no Sweeney Todd here.
The film is stylishly shot and edited to within an inch of its life, and all the performances are completely straight-faced intentionally throughout, particularly Meat Loaf who gets in on the gag. At the centre of the movie is Allie MacDonald, who is by far and away the best thing in the film. Showing promise as a rising star, not only is she sinking her teeth into the role of a strong horror vixen here, but also of a dazzling starlet, displaying real depth and nuance to every scene she’s in and there’s no doubt she’ll have a successful future ahead of her.
So in the end, Stage Fright is not a film that’ll work for everyone and it is a mess, but yet it’s somewhat of an enjoyable fun mess nevertheless, and in a perverse way, that is more admirable than making something that could’ve been generic and formulaic. It’s insane and more unpredictable than to be expected.
Expected Rating: 6 out of 10
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