Stage Fright – Tropes

I love horror, I really, really do. Ever since I was a kid something drew me to monsters, killers, dark alleys, and I feared what was under my bed or what waited for me in the garage. In recent years, however, the horror genre has really let me down though. Sure, there are a handful of decent flicks that slip through the cracks, but for the most part, the heyday of horror has long been….dead. However, when a new horror flick that even remotely looks interesting comes around I feel compelled to give it a try and give it a fair chance. Enter “Stage Fright“, the ultimate mash-up of “Glee” and Argento, and while some of it works, it devolves into typical horror tropes that are all too familiar to fans of the genre.

“Fright” takes place at Center Stage Theater Camp. Camilla, the daughter of a famous theater star who was murdered on the night of the premier of “The Haunting of the Opera”, along with her brother, Buddy, are the cooks at the camp. Upon learning that The Haunting of the Opera is to be revived, with a Japanese twist,  at the camp, Camilla decides that it’s her destiny to play the role of Sofia, the same role her mother played the night of her murder. Meanwhile, Roger, played by Meat Loaf, is trying to revive his career by having Broadway agent Victor Brady visit the camp during the premier. As we inch ever closer to Opening Night, strange happenings are a foot as a masked killer is wrecking havoc leaving a trail of bodies behind. Will Camilla survive to perform another day, or will the Opera Ghost seal her fate?

There are actually some good ideas floating around in “Fright”. While I’m not a huge musical fan, I appreciate the way the music is worked in, but doesn’t take center stage throughout the film. The numbers actually reminded me Troma’s Poultrygiest and Phantom of the Paradise, and there is the added coolness that Meat Loaf is hamming it up almost as much as he was in “Rocky Horror Picture Show”. Allie MacDonald, who plays Camilla, turns in a fine performance as well and gives off a pseudo-Kristen Connolly look with her expressive eyes and almost “babe-lost-in-the-woods” look.

While there are some good points, halfway through the 2nd act, Fright devolves into standard slasher fare. Toss in a few red herrings, a chase through the woods, imaginative kills, some Argento gore, and the standard “twist.” What I also found a little weird was the fact that the film really played up the stereotypes of “theater kids” either being weird, bullied, or gay, which is played up quite a bit between two characters. While it’s done tastefully, it just seems like an overused trope that is too often used for comedic effect in films that revolve around singing or dancing.

Clocking in at just under 90 minutes, Fright is good because it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. You’re in, you’re out, and it’s not too painful of a watch despite the fact you’ll probably be rolling your eyes come the credit roll. For fans of musicals with a splash of gore, Fright will be right up your alley, but temper your expectations.

Fun Fact: Magnolia Pictures, Stage Fright’s film distributor, is co-owned by Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban.

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