Stage Fright Frightfest ReviewStage Fright Frightfest Review
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Stage Fright Frightfest Review

It can be argued that the history of the slasher film begun with Michael Powell‘s Peeping Tom or Alfred Hitchcock‘s Psycho. However, there’s clearly something about a body count, a knife-wielding killer and a ‘whodunit’ murder mystery that horror audiences seem to love. After all, during the 1980s films like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th and Halloween have become a commercial success at the box office and went on to spawn several sequels each. In the 1990s the genre was given a much needed facelift by Director Wes Craven and Screenwriter Kevin Williamson with their self-aware meta horror Scream which also turned into a mega successful franchise in its own right.

By todays standards the horror genre is rich of slasher films, some of which are great and then some of them which are truly awful. This said, there still remains a loyal fan base for the slasher film no matter how bad they can get but for the rest of us, we remain ever hopeful that there will be a slasher film that goes against expectations. So when I learnt that Jerome Sable’s horror musical Stage Fright was picked up to play this years Film4 Frightfest, I knew I had to see it.

Stage Fright stars Allie MacDonald (House at the end of the Street) as Camilla Swanson, the daughter of a Broadway diva (Minnie Driver) who was savagely murdered on the opening night of the musical ‘The Haunting of the Opera’. Working with her brother Buddy (Douglas Smith) at a musical theatre summer camp owned by musical producer Roger McCall (Meatloaf), Camilla is given the chance to take on her mother’s iconic role when the camp decide to put on a production of ‘The Haunting of the Opera’ unaware that there is a masked killer on the loose who loathes musical theatre.

With Stage Fright Jerome Sable has crafted a film that is certainly different to your average slasher. After a vicious opening sequence the film starts to feel like some kind of demented Disney channel production but thankfully not for long as it changes into something much darker by its third act. Yes the plot might be simple and perhaps some of the musical numbers are forgettable but I can’t help but admire the that Stage Fright balances between its musical numbers and horror elements in check by turning the film from a tongue-in-cheek musical into more of a slasher film by its third act.

The cast do an okay job but no one really shines. Minnie Driver’s appearance is short but sweet and Meatloaf does okay in the role of the camp director who is trying to make ends meet and keep everything in check on the run-up to opening night. As for Allie MacDonald, she did an okay job with what was expected of her but her character for the lead is surprisingly dislikable with very little to no substance. Thankfully, the rest of the supporting actors flesh out the film and make the film much more enjoyable. Even though the performances were at best average, I feel this is more of a fault of the script rather than the acting ability for the cast.

I would be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy the film. Packed with plenty of quirky moments and a killer you can really get behind, it’s a fun and commendable feature debut for Jerome Sable. Not only has he crafted a creative slasher film but he has given horror fans something they have always wanted… something different. So go see it and have fun.