Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
If nothing else, I've gotta give Writer / Director / songwriter Jerome Sable and his horror / musical and A+ for effort. Here's the thing though… I watched this movie with my Stage Enabled son, who as it happens, as he is graduating in a few weeks, will be a camp counselor at some drama camp.  I mention this because in his Stage Enhanced opinion, the music numbers were awful.  I didn't think so, but then I'm not a song and dance guy.  No, but I am sort of a horror movie type guy, and that wasn't all that good either.  But then my sissy of a son winced or turned his head every time someone took a knife to the throat.  What am I trying to say?  Who the hell knows?

It's opening night and Kylie Swanson (Minnie Driver) is breaking every leg in her body during her performance of Haunting of the Opera as it is awesome.  Her twins Camilla and Buddy come to congratulate mom, along with her husband Roger (Meat Loaf) and it is all good.  Unfortunately Kylie has got a little bit of the slut in her as a man in the opera mask comes around to feel her up a bit.  It's not who she thought it was.  A knife in the throat later, the world is less one slutty, aging, but still pretty hot diva.  Note that Minnie Driver gets top billing in this film, though her participation is wrapped up about five minutes in.

Fast forward a decade or so and now it's time for drama camp where the kids sing show tunes and dance on cue and at the drop of the hat.  In particular we are going to focus on camp cleanup girl Camilla (Allie McDonald), Kylie's little girl all grown up now, and her brother the camp chef Buddy (Douglas Smith).  Roger is still around, running this camp, but note that he is not these kids biological father though he has been kind of enough to raise them.  In a completely Cinderellaesque evil stepmother kind of way.
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The problem, however, is that the Drama Camp is in financial trouble and Roger needs a splash to get it back on the map.  Or more accurately, to get himself back on the map and back to Broadway, and he figures revising the Haunting of the Opera is the way to do this.  Camilla might still be seriously traumatized by the brutal murder of her mother, but Broadway is in this girl's heart and she feels that she should be the one who plays the role that made her mom famous.  And got her killed.

So the production begins and eventually really annoying song and dance people start dying from mysterious circumstances.  Actually, it's not so mysterious as they are clearly being brutally murdered.  Maybe somebody should call the police or something, or at least send these kids home to safety… but the show must go on.  Roger said that.  He sang it actually.

But who is killing these amazingly annoying people?  And why?  And why did he let some of them live?  That upset us.  The who is fairly obvious.  The why… not so obvious but kind of silly.  Our concern is that on opening night, will poor Camilla be the next one to fall at the hands of this diabolical killer with the powerful rock star singing voice?

'Stage Fright' is unique, we can at least give it that.  Somebody went to the trouble to write songs and craft some rudimentary choreography all for the purpose of murdering annoying people.  Kudos for that.  Having been around my share of hyper serious amateur stage performers, seeing some of them bite the dust in a somewhat funny way did have its moments.  But something about 'Stage Fright' just didn't completely come together.  I will admit I was a little shocked when Minnie Driver took that first knife in the throat.  And I will admit I did laugh when the busload of drama camp kids broke into song.  But unfortunately that would pretty much be the end of my laughter and my horror shock, which might be a bit of an issue for a film striving to be something of a horror comedy.

The musical that would follow, while amusing at times, never could quite reach that comedy apex they needed for 'Stage Fright' to be a successful comedy, and horror elements were lukewarm at best.  One of the issues with the horror is that we really didn't mind watching the people die that our crazed slasher was killing, then eventually our crazed slasher became about as annoying as the annoying people he was taking out.  If not more so. 

But the premise was a good one, Meat Loaf seemed to be having a good time, Minnie Driver was great in this movie for the few minutes of her time she donated to it, and Allie McDonald is a lovely young lady and was solid Final Girl material.  This horror comedy just needed a little more comedy and a lot better horror to completely seal the deal of its original concept.
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