Movie Review – Stage Fright (2014)

Stage Fright (2014) is a Canadian musical slasher film written and directed by Jerome Sable. It attempts to meld the sensibilities of Glee with the post-Scream (1996) teen slasher. Starring Allie MacDonald and Meat Loaf, it opens with a brutal kill and rolls to the opening credits, then entering into a campy musical number with genuinely hilarious lyrics:

Sam Brownstein: [singing] All of us have heard these names of hate, but let me get one thing straight: I’m gay, I’m gay, but not in that way / Musicals move me and touch me in ways I can’t say.

Liz Silver, Sheila Kerry, Bethany: [singing] He’s gay, but not in that way.

Sam Brownstein: [singing] I sleep with women but musicals make me feel gay!

David Martin: [singing/butting in] I’m gay, I’m actually gay. I don’t get hard when I see T and A / Could be my DNA or how I was raised.

Liz Silver, Sheila Kerry, Bethany: [singing] We don’t distinguish here at Center Stage.

Entire Camp: [singing/dancing] We’re all gay, we’re gay in all kinds of ways!

Sheila Kerry: [singing] Some in the bedroom.

Sam Brownstein, Liz Silver, Sheila Kerry, Bethany: [singing] And some ’cause of musical plays!

It is a great opening and a promising start.

Alas, the rest of the film doesn’t quite live up to this opening. It doesn’t effectively maintain either the campy humor or the slasher violence. This latter aspect, especially, falls flat. Nevertheless, the film is entertaining throughout and Meat Loaf in particular gives a committed performance. Truly, the movie is a better musical than horror film, and Sable undoubtedly has an ear for melody. Even when I was yawning at the kills I was tapping my finger to the songs and smiling at the gusto with which some of the young actors were singing them. Had Sable pushed the horror farther, and at least threatened to have that horror visited upon the earnest young campers, it might have made the film far more potent.

Stage Fright doesn’t offer much beyond the novelty of mixing the two unlikely genres, but it makes me hope more filmmakers will attempt the marriage and succeed. It comes close but comes up short, but if another filmmaker digs a little deeper they may hit real pay dirt.

Grade: C+

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