So my deep, shameful secret is that once upon a time I was a theater geek. A super theater geek. So I thought I’d love a movie set at a theater camp with a musical killer slashing the kids. I was wrong. So, so wrong.
The movie even opened up with a True Warning, which everyone knows I’m a sucker for.
Sadly, this could not save this movie.
Allie MacDonald stars as Camilla Swanson, the cook at a theater camp.
Her mom, Kylie Swanson (Minnie Driver) was murdered a decade ago while starring in a production of “The Haunting of the Opera,” a Phantom of the Opera knockoff since I’m so sure they couldn’t afford the rights. Now Camilla and her twin brother, Buddy (Douglas Smith), are in the care of Roger McCall (Meat Loaf), the producer of “The Haunting of the Opera” and owner of the theater camp.
All Camilla wants to do is sing and act and it seems perfect to cast her in her mother’s role in the revival. Until people start being taken out one by one by a killer in a kabuki mask–oh yeah, the revival is set in feudal Japan because when a certain type of pretentious white people want to be edgy they add “ethnic.”
The killer is literally the only character with any interest because every other character is too busy being insufferable.
I fancy that I’ve watched a lot of slashers and can speak on some authority about what makes a slasher good. If every character is going to be awful with no redeeming qualities then the kills had at least better be satisfying. In this movie, the characters were so paper-thin that I couldn’t care about any of them and the kills weren’t gory enough to make up for this.
Honestly, Camilla was the worst character for me. I expect more grit from my Final Girls (Although the body count is so low that she barely qualifies for the title). She’s all big eyes and fragility. When the play’s director, Artie (Brandon Uranowitz), starts making it clear that Camilla will only perform opening night if she has sex with him, Camilla just goes along with him (until backing out at the last minute). But she’s basically ready to sleep her way to the top for a part in a community theater play. Or is this a case of sleeping your way to the bottom? I just can’t see Laurie Strode or Nancy Thompson putting up with that load of malarkey.
Is it fair that the whole time I was watching it, I was comparing it to Opera? Probably not. Still, Stage Fright makes my least favorite Argento flick look really good.
It made me wish that instead of creating a fake musical with horrible lyrics that they just used an old opera. THAT is creepy! And that lends itself to cool and creepy visuals. And, most importantly, it lacks white people in kabuki costumes shouting “Hi-yah!” Seriously, that really happened.
The killer’s reveal ended up being incredibly boring and unoriginal. I watched it with my best friend, who doesn’t watch as much horror as I do, who commented, “This entire movie feels like a Fear Street book. Did R.L. Stine write this?” No, there are Goosebumps books that are scarier than this movie.
I’ll just leave you with a video of the only interesting part of the movie.