Wait! Now just hold on a minute. Let me get this right. This is a slasher musical comedy? I didn’t even know they made those. Oh, well, it has to get points for originality at least.
One of the pitfalls of doing this reviewing business thingy is that you can potentially come across something so out of left field as to completely blindside you. If you’re like me and watch several hundred new films a year, this is a quite an achievment for a movie, as if we’re honest, most things don’t come as too much of a surprise to the likes of us anymore. This can often (less so) be as much of a good thing as bad (more so), but if nothing else Stage Fright has that initial ‘WTF?’ factor firmly in its favour.
If you’re a lover of musical theatre (and it would really help you here if you were) then this can go one of two ways. You will either become completely enraptured by the plethora of songs and the sheer joy on those happy smiling faces as they go about the business of doing the business they love. Or, on the other hand, you might be inclined to side with the killer, who clearly does not appreciate a showtune, regardless of who is singing it, but even less so when destroyed by annoyingly precocious brat children who the average man in the street would be likely to gun down given half a chance.
If you’re not a lover of muscial theatre, then you might just see the irony lurking beneath all this frivolous, beaming, bile-inducing enthusiasm. This realisation might just make the project bearable for you, safe in the knowledge that there is a good chance that most of these characters are likely to be dead by the end, with your fingers firmly crossed.
The film opens on the fateful night of the murder of Kylie Swanson (Minnie Driver) following rapturous applause for her performance in ‘The Haunting Of The Opera’. In her dressing room, she greets her adoring children Buddy and Camilla who have just watched the show.
Ten years after these events and the two children are now grown up and working at a performing arts camp (where else?) as cooks in the kitchen, having been taken in by their Mothers’ Manager (Meat Loaf) and have been with him ever since. It is he that runs this performing arts camp for children of a more artistic bent.
When Camilla auditions for a leading role in the show, some people are not best pleased and it is at this point that you would expect all of the glee club dancing and merry-making to take a back seat, deferring to a more unsavoury plot. But those yearning for a quick death for some of the more aggravating characters will have to sit tight for a while longer as the film is in no hurry to get to the money shots. Littered with songs and the general humdrum of everyday camp life, including the obligatory filthy glances and fits of pique so suitable for those of a fragile and tempestuous ego, you do wish that they would hurry up and get the songbird culling started.
But aside from the prologue unpleasantness, you are going to have to wait until your are more than half way in before anything of real note for horror fans actually occurs. The rest of this time is awarded to a rather lacklustre script, the intermittent nod to horror movies gone by and some well-worn cliches.
The blood-letting, when it finally does arrive, is inventive enough yet doesn’t hang around, and horror genre fans will not be moved by it as they will have seen much, much worse before. As an inspiration, you would have to suggest that the Scream franchise places high on the director’s wishlists of jobs he had actually got the gig for, but setting this story to a musical just doesn’t really work. It’s a brave attempt at something out of the ordinary for the genre, but if we’re brutally honest, it failed in absolutely every aspect.
A dawdling narrative, with pointless plotting, cringeworthy over-acting and unimaginative direction make this one to miss and unfortunately, is my first (and hopefully last, but I have a sneaking suspicion, like buses, there will be another one along in a minute) binbag entry of the year. As per the comment from one reviewer I have already nodded sagely in agreement with since starting this review. “I want my time back, just don’t waste yours.”