Movie Review: “Stage Fright” Has The Audacity To Be A Horror/Musical That Actually Works And Watch First 10 Minutes

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Review by James McDonald

A snobby musical theater camp is terrorized by a blood-thirsty killer who hates musical theater.

I have to give it to the makers of “Stage Fright”. They took a movie genre I loathe (musical) and one I love (horror) and actually made a damn good ‘Horrical’. Okay, no such word exists but it sums this movie up exactly: a musical with horror elements. Or a horror with musical elements. Either way you look at it, this movie has both horror and music. On the opening night of the musical ‘The Haunting of the Opera’, Kylie Swanson (Minnie Driver) is the lead of the play and after it closes to astounding applause, she waits backstage with her two young children, celebrating with them.

When the producer of the show and her boyfriend Roger (Meat Loaf) comes by to congratulate her, he takes the children so she can get ready for the after-party. As she is taking off her costume, a man wearing a mask from the play turns up and starts caressing her. Thinking it’s Roger dressed up, she lets him continue but no sooner is she moaning with pleasure than he quickly pulls out a knife and kills her.

Ten years later, both of her children, Camilla (Allie MacDonald) and Buddy (Douglas Smith), work at a snobby performing arts camp that is run by Roger. Although they are not his kids, he took them in and looked after them after their mother’s death. This year, and on the verge of bankruptcy, Roger decides for the camp play, that he is going to resurrect his most famous production, ‘The Haunting of the Opera’. Seeing that it is also the tenth anniversary of Kylie’s death, he hopes that it will bring in the crowds.

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He brings in a young hotshot director Artie Getz (Brandon Uranowitz) to oversee the production and no sooner are casting auditions underway and rehearsals set, than the body-count begins. It’s on opening night though, that the masked executioner has saved the biggest kills for last! What I liked about this movie, aside from the quintessential musical numbers, was that it brought me back to the era when this sort of horror film was just establishing itself as a film genre. In 1980, the original “Friday the 13th” was released to huge box office numbers and no sooner had it left the theaters than we were bombarded with copycat films.

Titles like “The Burning”, “Sleepaway Camp” and “Madman” and strangely enough, “Stage Fright” had an element throughout the movie that was eerily reminiscent of those movies. Of course, we never know the identity of the killer until the end of the film but the story does a good job in setting up as many possible suspects as possible without giving it away. Is it the creepy old gardener who seems to despise kids? Or is it Camilla’s over-protective brother Buddy? Or maybe it’s Liz, the leading actress of the play who’s replaced by Camilla at the last minute? I actually found myself guessing the killer’s identity only to get it wrong.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and Meat Loaf does a good job throughout as does Allie MacDonald in the lead role. She has an innocence about her, much like Linda Hamilton did in “The Terminator” only to find her moxie as the film plays out. The musical numbers were comical and at times, suggestively raunchy, which brought a smile to my face. And the ending of the film was a complete nod to the horror films of the seventies and the eighties, just when you think it’s all over…it’s not!

In theaters May 9th. Available to download on iTunes and VOD now.

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James McDonald

Film/Theater Critic & Interviewer at Red Carpet Crash
Originally from Dublin, Ireland, James is a Movie Critic and Celebrity Interviewer with over 30 years of experience in the film industry as an Award-Winning Filmmaker.
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