Horror-musical may not be the most well-known subgenre of horror, but it’s managed to carve out its own little niche with the classics such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Sweeney Todd. Now director Jerome Sable’s debut “Stage Fright” tries to throw its hat into that ring with this campy musical-slasher.
Stage Fright opens with the female lead of a new play, The Haunting of the Opera, being murdered after its opening night. Cut to ten years later, and her daughter Camilla (Allie McDonald) and son Buddy (Douglas Smith) work in the kitchen at a summer theater camp. The camp’s manager is Roger (Meat Loaf), the producer of the original “The Haunting of the Opera.” He decides to revive the infamous play in hopes of saving the theater camp from going under. Camilla ends up auditioning for the play and winning the lead, while another masked murderer begins to take lives. Imagine Glee if it were set inside of a slasher flick.
The musical aspect of Stage Fright is done particularly well. The characters are all entertaining enough and the songs are catchy and pretty funny. The acting and the singing is excellent across the entire ensemble. It starts out with a strong musical opening, but it later develops into a whodunit which works for awhile and then dives into more of the horror side of things. Where the movie starts to falter is when it tries to incorporate its horror elements into the musical. The two elements never end up blending well together which starts to drag the film down in the second half. Also, the metal music they give the killer comes off as a bit silly and the kabuki mask he wears makes him look like the life-size offshoot of Billy the Puppet.
There’s plenty to like when it comes to Stage Fright, but it just didn’t do enough to satisfy my horror tastes. It’s definitely well made, and if you’re already a big fan of musical-horror, then there’s enough reason to check it out. However, Stage Fright won’t be converting any newcomers into fans of the genre.