drama camp kids might as well learn the hard truths of show business at an
early age. They will watch as the seniors deal with the casting couch, a
manipulative producer, and a psycho-stalker. Nonetheless, they keep singing and
dancing all the way through Jerome Sable’s musical horror mash-up, Stage Fright (trailer here), which opens
today in New York.
The Haunting of
the Opera would
have been a triumph for its star-diva Kylie Swanson, had she not been brutally
murdered by a knife wielding maniac dressed as the Phantom after her opening
night performance. It’s a setback. Roger McCall, Swanson’s producer and
one-time lover takes in her young children, Camilla and Buddy, but falls on
hard times after the show’s closing. He tries to make a go of it as the
director of the Center Stage Camp for Performing Arts, where the siblings work
as kitchen staff. Yet, despite a loyal student body, the camp is teetering on
the brink of bankruptcy.
a last ditch comeback attempt, McCall decides to stage the Andrew Lloyd
Weber-ish Haunting as their annual
production. In violation of camp policy, Camilla auditions for her mother’s
part. Naturally, she nails it, but she will still have to finesse the lecherous
student director. News of her involvement even attracts the interest of a career-making
producer, but once again a psycho in a Phantom mask starts carving up cast-members.
Yet, the show will go on, don’tcha know.
and musical collaborator Eli Batalion were team behind the musical horror short
The Legend of Beaver Dam, which is
rather amusing, largely because the brief format allows it to just
hit-it-and-quit-it without a lot of phony drama. Frankly, Sable might be too
pre-occupied with the psychological angst. Yes, character development is
generally a good thing, but Camilla’s little orphan complex is not very deep or
compelling. Yet, it takes space that could otherwise be used for gory gags.
of the individual tunes are particularly memorable either, but they are
performed by the cast and company with admirable conviction. Fright will probably hold considerably
more novelty appeal for midnight movie fans outside of New York, because we can
see legit stage productions in this spirit Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway
fairly regularly. (In fact, it might have helped Sable to have someone like
Rachel Klein on-board as a consultant or whatever.)
when Fright goes all in, Grand Guignol
style, it is a pretty awesome spectacle. Essentially, the opening and closing
deliver on its promise, whereas the long midsection merely serves to get us
from here to there. For Rocky Horror fans,
it also has Meat Loaf (Aday) singing and thesping as McCall. While her
character is not long for the world, Minnie Driver dies great in the prologue.
Unfortunately, the twentysomething cast playing teenagers are largely
undistinguished. Arguably, the best numbers feature the full company rather
than the solo spotlights.
The film has its moments, but there should be
more subversive glee, so to speak. Recommended eventually as a VOD or DVD pick
for horror fans who do not have a lot of genre theaters options in their
hometowns, Stage Fright opens today
(5/9) in New York at the Cinema Village.
Labels: Horror Movies, Meat Loaf, Minnie Driver, Movie Musicals