Though it features moderately amusing supporting turns from Minnie Driver and Meat Loaf, "Stage Fright" centers on Allie MacDonald and Douglas Smith as orphan siblings Camilla and Buddy. The two have muddled through life as Dickensian live-in kitchen workers at the Center Stage performing-arts summer camp, run by the mustachioed ex-Broadway producer Roger (Meat Loaf), who still carries a torch for the kids' mother (Driver), a prima donna murdered in her dressing room years ago.
From here on out, the entire enterprise falls apart. The music ceases to amuse -- the decision to give the anonymous, guitar-wielding killer a batch of half-tunes styled on screechy '80s hair metal is a particularly disastrous one -- the bloody killings prove jokey and dull, and whatever flashes of directorial audacity Sable displayed in the beginning are discarded for a purely functional shooting style.
Most frustratingly, the film rarely manages to meld its two parent genres at all, with musical-theater pastiche dominating the early going, and straight slasher pastiche taking over around the halfway point, and rarely the twain do meet. Horror fans will surely spot all sorts of callbacks to vintage grindhouse trash cinema -- the musical-theater references are mostly limited to the fake show posters that adorn the camp's mess hall -- but there have to be more than a dozen tongue-in-cheek "Friday the 13th" homages that have done this with far more wit and intelligence.
Songs by Sable and collaborator Eli Batalion are diverting enough when they hew close to the Andrew Lloyd Webberisms of the material they're sending up, but too often the lyrics resort to easy punchlines aimed at obvious targets. Lead actress MacDonald proves nicely adept with her spotlight solos, however, and the sound work is all well handled, which is no small feat for a musical produced on a budget.
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