Main cast: Allie MacDonald (Camilla Swanson), Douglas Smith (Buddy Swanson), Brandon Uranowitz (Artie Getz), Kent Nolan (Joel Hopton), Melanie Leishman (Liz Silver), Meat Loaf (Roger McCall), and Minnie Driver (Kylie Swanson)
Director: Jerome Sable
A musical horror flick? I have to give director and writer Jerome Sable for trying, but Stage Fright turns out to be a dire affair.
First, the story. Ten years ago, Kylie Swanson, a Broadway star, was murdered during the staging of The Haunting of the Opera. Today, Camilla and Buddy are under the care of Roger McCall, who used to be Kylie’s boyfriend. When the movie opens, Camilla and Buddy join a bunch of teenagers at Roger’s musical theater summer camp. Camilla ends up in the starring role of a play directed by Artie Getz, but he demands sexual favors from Camilla in order for him to keep her in that role. Her rival, Liz, has no problems putting out for a role, especially when an actual Broadway agent is attending the opening night. Camilla has reservations about putting out, and Artie’s attention drives a wedge into her developing relationship with Joel. Of course, someone starts killing people one by one in the meantime.
After Kylie’s death in the opening scene, it will takes slightly over 40 minutes for the next fun murder to happen. That’s a lot of time to waste watching a bunch of kids awkwardly going through the motions of “acting” and squabbling like generic stereotypes in a generic teen flick. In these forty minutes, there are some occasional really screechy singing, to vaguely similar-sounding songs that seem like they are rejected riffs stolen from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s bottom drawer. The whole thing is boring, and the “musical” parts are like bad noise. Meanwhile, Meat Loaf is appropriately hammy and amusing, but everyone else has the charisma and screen presence of comatose snails.
The 40th-minute murder is implausible but fun, as the killer camps it up and the method of murder is so ridiculous that I have to laugh. Unfortunately, it’s back to the same old boring teen drama, horrible music, and awkward comedy after that cheerful scene. I have to wait until after the one hour mark for a few more dead bodies, and then the whole thing is over. In the meantime, this movie has some of the worst failed attempts at comedy I’ve come across in a while. I do feel sorry for Jerome Sable after a while, as he puts in so many scenes that he hopes to be funny, only to have those scenes come off as too staged and obvious to elicit laughter from me. The script tries too hard, and fails harder.
Stage Fright is an embarrassingly inept film that can’t get anything right. It’s sad, really, because the concept of a musical slasher flick is pretty cool.