Stage Fright from first timer Jerome Sable is a valiant effort for sure with some decent kills, good acting especially from lead actress Allie MacDonald but its oddly paced and doesn’t quite hit the mark in the end, making for nothing more than a rental. The Blu-ray released by Magnolia does feature nice audio/video transfers and the bonus material, while thin, is OK.
Genre(s): Horror, Musical, Comedy
Magnolia Home Entertainment | R – 88 min. – $29.98 | July 8, 2014
THE MOVIE – 4.5/5
Note: This review contains spoilers concerning the plot. Please skip this section if you don’t want to learn plot details.
“Sing your heart out!”
Stage Fright is the latest horror-musical following in the steps of Rocky Horror Picture Show and Repo: The Genetic Opera and honestly, despite some reservations going in, is actually not a bad flick, unfortunately it’s not as good as it could have been nor as cleaver as I’m sure the filmmakers thought it was…
Our story opens with Kylie Swanson (MINNIE DRIVER), the mother of a twin son and daughter, after a rousing performance in a play entitled “The Haunting of the Opera” (a reference to Phantom of the Opera obviously) but before her career could take off, she’s brutally murdered by a mask-wearing, knife-wielding killer. Fast forward 10 years later where we meet Camilla Swanson (ALLIE MACDONALD) now in her teens and working alongside her brother Buddy (DOUGLAS SMITH) at Center Stage, a summer camp for the performing arts owned and run by Roger McCall (MEAT LOAF), Kylie’s former manager and I guess the Swanson siblings’ guardian.
But with the camp underwater and McCall in deep financial trouble, he is counting on a revival of “The Haunting of the Opera”, done by the camp kids, to get him out of trouble as a major stage producer is lined up to attend. At the same time, while the play is only supposed to be open to the paying campers, Camilla wants to follow in her mother’s footsteps and manages to get an audition and wows the director and McCall himself who sees her as the ticket. Of course, this ruffles some feathers including a girl (MELANIE LEISHMAN) who is in competition for the role; this is so the director can get as much tail as possible before making a decision…
As you can imagine, this wouldn’t be a slasher flick with bodies and gallons of fake blood and lo and behold by film’s end, the body count does rise… somewhat (low by slasher standards actually) and a killer on the loose dressed up in a kabuki mask used in the “Opera” revival, set in futile Japan. And on an amusing note, the film does cut to the killer as he lashes out from some secret lair singing in heavy metal vocals; those moments did give me a chuckle, on purpose or not.
I’ll admit, for as clumsily the execution this film was, including some odd pacing issues, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy Stage Fright. It might not be terribly surprising in its twists and turns and the body count (for a horror/slasher) is quite low, and yet some of the musical numbers, in particular the opening, are well written and the inter-cutting from them to other scenes provides some life when things tended to drag.
For her part, Allie MacDonald could be a star on the rise, along the lines of a Neve Campbell at least, and she holds her own as the lead while Meat Loaf, in a limited part, shows some of the charisma last seen in Fight Club, albeit that film’s writing doesn’t even come close to this. Douglas Smith is good as the concerned brother and Minnie Driver, in what is more or less a cameo appearance, gives the film a certain weight to it, not unlike Drew Barrymore in Scream; again, the writing doesn’t even come close.
Stage Fright is hardly perfect and I can’t give it a recommendation beyond a rental, but first-time director Jerome Sable doesn’t shy away from a challenge as he attempts to join horror, comedy and musical into one movie and with some work and perhaps a more experiences filmmaker, this could’ve been some sort of cult classic. Instead, it’s an OK flick that probably won’t be remembered a month from now. That being said, at only 88-minutes (w/ credits), it’s breezy kind of entertainment worth one viewing.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.75/5
Audio Commentary – Writer/Director/Co-Composer Jerome Sable and Co-Composer Eli Batalion sit down for a chummy track giving some insight into the movie, musical numbers and casting. Nothing extraordinary but worth a listen.
The Making of Stage Fright (9:18; HD) is a basic behind-the-scenes featurette with on-set interviews by the cast and crew.
Deleted Scenes (3:43; HD) include a few insignificant scenes that don’t really add much to the story, thus were correctly removed.
In Memory of a Fallen Camper (1:59; HD) is a memoriam to a character, Bethany, whose scenes were cut from the film (though she’s still background in a few scenes).
The Evolution of Set Design (1:38; HD) – Nothing much except some scenes and shots from the movie looking at the stage sets in the film.
Sing-Alongs (17:59; HD) are available for 7 songs.
Interview with Writer/Director/Co-Composer Jerome Sable and Co-Composer Eli Batalion (17:07; HD) has the pair discussing their background, music and how the movie came to fruition.
ACS TV: A Look at Stage Fright (2:57; HD) is an EPK featurette offering little insight into the film.
Theatrical Trailer (2:08; HD)
BD Live – This is merely a placeholder as when clicking it just says “check back for updates”, so not even Magnolia is using it anymore it seems.
VIDEO – 4.5/5
Stage Fright takes stage onto Blu-ray with a 1080p high-definition transfer and presented in a 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio. The picture offers up fine detail levels throughout, bright colors during daytime scenes and stark blacks and grays for the more dimly lit areas. Since this was shot digitally, there are no signs of artifacts or pixilation.
AUDIO – 4.25/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track benefits from a musical film and here it sounds crisp and clear as do the dialogue levels. It’s not something I would say has a ton of depth or anything nor is it terribly dynamic, but it is effective enough.
OVERALL – 3.25/5
Overall, Stage Fright from first timer Jerome Sable is a valiant effort for sure with some decent kills, good acting especially from lead actress Allie MacDonald but its oddly paced and doesn’t quite hit the mark in the end, making for nothing more than a rental. The Blu-ray released by Magnolia does feature nice audio/video transfers and the bonus material, while thin, is OK with about 30-minutes worth of featurettes plus the commentary track.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.