Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Sing Until You Scream: Stage Fright (2014)
Starring: Minnie Driver, Meat Loaf, Allie MacDonald
People singing at the drop of a hat while something horrifying is happening sounds more of a comical plot than a straight horror trope so it's very rare to have a film that works on both sides unless you are looking for cheese.
Now, I myself is a fair fan of musicals and I don't mind the cheesy songs so long as they're catchy and memorable. As far as I can tell, however, the only worthy horror musicals out there are REPO! The Genetic Opera, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Little Shop of Horror (1986) as they perfectly mixed humor and horror with catchy tune sthat deserve our ears, so I am crossing my fingers with this new entry, promising blood, laughs and bloody good numbers.
Coming from the same great guy who brought us the short The Legend of Beaver Dam, Jerome Sable, Stage Fright tells the story of Center Stage, a performing arts summer camp that helps aspiring theatre actors, directors, musical conductors and the likes reach the greatness of their skills and talents. This year's production happens to be an infamous piece known as the Haunting of The Opera, wherein ten years ago since it was last produced, a lead singer (Minnie Driver) was brutally murdered by a masked assailant, leaving her children under the care of the play's producer, Roger McCall (Meat Loaf)
Just so it happens, however, that said children works at the camp under their adoptive father's supervision as cooks and the mere news of the production sparked the passion for singing in one of the kids' heart, much of the disapproval of her brother and some of the divas. After a successful audition, Camilla (Allie MacDonald) gets a chance to play the lead, meaning her dreams might indeed come true, that is until someone wearing a prop mask began killing the actors and staffs in bloody ways, apparently out of hatred for musicals.
Stage Fright is a passable slasher that did deliver the goods but not without going through the bad; the first third seems to hold on its claim as a slasher musical comedy with a splashy red opening kill, followed by a funny and corny song about being different yet loved by everybody in camp. (since they're all into musicals and stuff) But after our lead got her part in the play, the film stops and lagged around with some uninteresting character developments and shots of a maniac looming around in the air vents in a Phantom of the Opera fashion. Some jokes and songs were tossed around but they're not as catchy or crowd pleasing than the first few in the batch.
It wasn't until the first kill in the camp that the ball got rolling again, revealing the killer in his KIZZ inspired kabuki mask and a rock-and-roll high note. My problem with this, though, was that it was around a quarter before the hour mark that this murder happens, meaning viewers who are a little impatient with their grue or a tad intolerant with musicals might have been tempted to switch off the film by then. To be honest, even the kill count wasn't much to be desired and so was the gore; we get one shoved light bulb, throat stabbing and a very bloody evisceration but the rest are pretty tame and simple murders
Still, the acting was right on the mark, the cinematography and score was simply beautiful and energetic, and the last few minutes of the movie was pretty cool with some workable twist, played straight with much intensity and creepiness even if you saw some of it miles away.
All in all, Stage Fright needed some polishing but otherwise it is a nice debut feature for a production used to making shorts. Perhaps some more murders and a few tweaks on the pacing would've improved it but fans of slasher and musicals (if there are more out there), you may have something to try here.
1 female repeatedly stabbed on the throat, knife to the mouth
1 male shoved mouth-first to a lamp bulb, electrocuted
1 female found with nails driven to her face
1 male stabbed with a pair of scissors
1 female has her throat cut with a saw blade
1 male knifed to death
1 male eviscerated with a buzzsaw