Stage Fright is a 2014 horror musical film directed by Jerome Sable. The story revolves around a musical theater summer camp doing a reproduction of the fictitious musical “The Haunting of the Opera” (I know, I chuckled too). However, 10 years prior during the opening night of the original production, the leading star was stabbed to death in her dressing room by a strange masked person. Cut to present time where her daugher who is graced with an equally angelic operatic voice decides she’d like to embody her mother’s character in the revival of the play. There’s also one other thing, there’s a theater-hating-killer amidst.
There are a few things I want to discuss about this film. First, the opening act is so odd and intriguing that I wasn’t quite sure whether it is ridiculous or genius. Maybe a bit of both. If you’ve ever watched High School Musical or Glee and thought “this is great… but I hope there’d be more killing” this is the perfect film for you, you bizarre human being.
There are musical sequences in the film and they are often amusing. It feels like it parodies those original Disney movies but the similarity of the tone is so familiar that, at times, it did feel like I was watching an original Disney movie (i.e Camp Rock, High School Musical etc). But then it would grab me by the foot and plunge me face first into the pool of bloody, gory horror that one doesn’t expect in any Disney film.
Ironically, the underground ‘villain’ who creepily has pictures of everyone on his walls and shreds his electric guitar is the cringiest part of the film for me. I didn’t really feel any type of ‘creep’ factor in these moments, it put me off for a bit because it doesn’t feel quite right or appropriate. Having said that, ‘appropriate’ probably isn’t what this film was going for (and this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing).
Someone in camp gets murdered but the producer manipulates the kids via one musical number and everyone is fine with it. Honestly I’ve tried this many times and I can attest it does not work. But this is probably me being picky, I could spend a few more hundred words ripping plot holes open but this seems redundant.
It did take a good majority of the film for me to decide whether or not I actually liked it. See, this process doesn’t often take more than an hour but the switch between such unlikely genres has caused my brain to short circuit.
But I was definitely won over by the end because the final act is very entertaining. Even if there is some confusion with the mixed genres.
Though the film does have flaws– it is by no means perfect, there’s a certain level of self awareness and undeniable creativity and originality that I admire. There are a few cliches and predictable turns of events, however the ultimate climax it all builds up to is worth it. I’m excited to see more of this mix from Jerome Sable and will definitely be watching out for more of his work in the future.
If you’re looking for something bizarre/entertaining with a few ‘holy shit’ moments, this is worth a watch.