Guys, I have a confession to make....I used to watch the show Glee. Before you throw in insults and point in laughter, it was at the time the show was really popular and I was still in high school, still watching cheesy teen dramas. Plus, I'm not even into musicals like that. So now that Glee has disintegrated into scrutiny, there is a new genre to uphold: The Horror Musical. Now the only ones I ever heard of was this obscure 1991 B-movie called Nudist Colony Of The Dead and an off-Broadway show called Camp Blood. But now it has come to this, a horror musical titled Stage Fright. and no it's not the remake of the 1987 Giallo classic as some of you like to think. Now some people would say this movie was a middle of the road for them, however, I think it's quite an enjoyable, entertaining movie. Finally! a fun slasher for once. And you know what else? the characters are actually likeable in this movie. Yeah, you have a few jerks here and there but not too much is focused on them and they get killed off rather quickly too. Although, I'm not a fan of musicals, I thought the songs were kind of catchy, matching the flow of the film. And freakin' Meat Loaf is in this! THE Meat loaf. And he sings too! how awesome is that. You also have the lovely Minnie Driver, who I haven't seen in a while. She too has a marvelous singing voice.
So like I said, I enjoyed this movie for what it is and there were times where I genuinely laughed. It's just too much of a fun time to be wasted.
The Story: Ten years after the brutal death of her mother, teenager Camilla Swanson, though still traumatized by the memory, dreams of following her mother's footsteps. She convinces former producer and current guardian Roger McCall, who is the owner of a musical theater camp that is currently under bankruptcy, to have the lead in a kabuki revival of The Haunting Of The Opera, the Broadway play her mom famously starred in. She gets no support from her brother Buddy, who's the most affected and bitter over their mother's death and has an overall hatred of acting in general. Once the show is in progress, a series of murders start plaguing the upcoming opening night after the death of the stage director. Now that everybody's in a panic, Roger tries desperately to keep the show afloat, ignoring the danger that's about to come. But little does the audience know that this particular night would be a bloody welcome.
The acting was top-notch and the cast is an adorably likeable bunch. You have kids of all ages here and the actors actually look like kids, even though some of them are past the age limit. And yeah, there are your usual jerks in the movie but their selfish actions comes more out of desperation. But at least they're not a jock or a cheerleader. And that is refreshing as hell. That's what I like about the cast, they're not stereotypes, they are just happy go-lucky kids who are passionate about reaching their dreams and goals. That's why I relate to the cast more.
Actress Allie McDonald gives a very genuine, heartfelt performance as Camilla. You can just tell how honest her portrayal is by the look in her eye.
Camilla's story arc is more like a Disney movie as if it was horror. The character comes across like this little girl lost but suddenly finding her way by harboring a talent in musical theater. I was invested in the character and in the end, you really care about her.
Buddy played by Douglas Smith was also a solid actor. Most of the time, his character comes off as very anti-social and surly but it stems from the fact that his life revolves around acting, which resents to the core. Witnessing the death of his mom at a young age really scarred him emotionally and he's been troubled ever since.
I liked the relationship between him and Camilla. They don't have a clear understanding of one another but all that they have is each other now and Buddy is just trying to look out for her. Being emotionally damaged by the traumatic event is what makes the character sympathetic.
Brandon Uranowitz was quite funny and charming as the arrogant stage director Artie. You would almost forget how slimy the character is just by the likeability of the actor. Some may think Artie is this slick director who has his way with the ladies but in all honesty, he is just as insecure as everyone else.
Melanie Leishman was really funny as Liz. She comes off like this alpha bitch type but from her end it's mostly out of petty jealous and trying to prove herself. Her comeuppance comes from being humiliated on a live stage, which is more justified than anything.
The gay stage producer (sorry, don't remember his name) is probably one of the more funnier characters in the movie. The actor really gives an enjoyable performance and he has just the right amount of charisma and improve to give the character more flare.
And I just have to mention this adorable hottie. He plays the guy that's not gay (yeah, right) but who's into musicals. I never said this about a guy but he has some good leg work going on. Very nice calves. he says he's not gay but you could totally see he is crushing hard on the gay stage producer. If this was a different movie, I totally would like to see how their relationship would go. Very interesting.
Last but not least, we have the legendary Meat Loaf bringing in a quite hammy performance as the camp owner Mr. McCall. You may think he's this unlikeable, money-grubbing asshole....which he is, but his actions comes from trying to save the camp and trying to accomplish his once failing career. There is a moment where he is willing to risking these kids' lives just to open a live show. Yes, it's a selfish, horrible thing to do but it's more out of desperation than anything.
How the film is directed is very lush and stylish. I really thought the cinematography was beautiful and the filmmakers put a lot of effort in it. What I like most about the directing is that you feel like you're in two different movies. You have the happy sunny existence of the campers contrast to the dark, angry psyche of the killer.
Speaking of the killer, I like the whole look of him. Sure the whole white mask thing have been done before but I like the artistic choice the filmmakers went with matching the theme of the movie.
There were times where he came off as over-the-top but knowing what type of movie this is, it works. He's sort of an antagonistic villain with a metal-rock edge and it definitely adds some originality to the killer.
Now it has come to this. There is a twist in this movie, I just can't resist to spoil. So guys watch this movie because things are about to get crazy:
Buddy is revealed to be the killer and the reason for his psychotic break is that he witnessed Roger killing his mother in a jealous rage once Roger found out that the mother was having an affair.
Soon he catches Buddy, threatening him and permanently scarring him for life.
Now at this point, Roger is a little nutty himself and after killing Buddy with no remorse, he goes off to the deep end. After he chases Camilla to the shed, she manages to kill Roger, rather graphically, with a buzz saw. So through all the craziness and the hilarious finale, all is well and Camilla reaches her dream of becoming a Broadway star just like her mother was.
So I really liked it. I liked how it wasn't just your typical slasher and manages to go a mile away. Finally, a slasher movie with some originality. Maybe over time people could see how enjoyable this movie is. And in the long run, it might be helmed as an underrated classic one day.
My last word: with catchy songs, a likeable cast, and an extremely gory kills, this should be one entertaining popcorn movie.