VOD Review - Stage Fright

This movie got a limited theatrical release earlier in the year. It's now streaming on Netflix. It's been awhile since I've seen a really out-and-out bad movie, and if I could nominate a film for a Razzie this year, it would be this one.

It's a horror musical that's not going for the kind of high art or quality as Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd or the kind of horror spoof as Wes Craven's Scream. It's trying to pay homage to The Phantom of the Opera but with kabuki masks, which could have been interesting from a teen perspective. Yet, the movie gets to be so campy and stupid that it doesn't work. It tries to swing and address this serious issue and be scary, but writer-director Jerome Sable can't balance it.

Allie MacDonald stars as Camilla Swanson, a teenage girl who works at a summer camp for the performing arts with her twin brother Buddy, played by Douglas Smith (Big Love and Ouija). Both help out in the kitchen, but Camilla is an aspiring actress and singer like her mom, played by Minnie Driver. Buddy discourages her because of the fact that their mom was murdered in the theater.

For some strange reason, Roger, played by Meat Loaf, is the middle-age, pudgy man who runs the camp. Roger decides to put on the same play that Camilla and Buddy's mom was doing when she was murdered. Despite Buddy's objections, Camilla decides to audition for the play and do the same role as her mom. She decides to stick with it, even though a series of murders break out that knock off people involved.

Sable doesn't make the gross misstep of actually killing children at this summer camp in brutal slayings like chopping off digits or shoving broken glass from a light bulb down someone's throat. It's like Crystal Lake in Friday the 13th where Jason Voorhees only takes out horny teenagers or older. Yet, even in those movies, you get the sense that if children as young as the ones here were present, some urgency or great sense of danger would be had. This movie sweeps over that sense of danger.

It just wants bloody and over-the-top, backstage killings without actually doing the work to establish any reality or pathos. Buddy as a character is completely under-developed. Douglas Smith as an actor is practically wasted. The relationship between Buddy and Camilla is barely there.

One Star out of Five.
Rated R for bloody horror violence, language and some sexual references.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 28 mins.


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