JANUARY 18, 2012
In honor to succeed, a slasher film must deliver on one of two levels: the story has to be interesting (Scream) or it has to be stylish and scary (Halloween). I can also accept “a whole bunch of cool kills” (Hatchet), but that sort of falls under style. Unfortunately for anyone who makes the mistake of watching Stage Fright, it delivers absolutely none of those things – it’s actually MORE plot-less than Halloween but has zero style, without a single good kill or interesting killer to make up for its other faults.
Director/producer Rick Jordan (who also co-stars) also can’t even bother to pick a tone. It starts off like a farcical comedy of sorts, with a bunch of actors sitting around doing little shtick-y things as a cartoonish producer yells at someone over the phone – no suggestion that it’s even a horror/comedy mix, just a flat out (unfunny) comedy. Finally after seven minutes the rest of the credits show up (out of nowhere; I had actually already forgotten that they weren’t complete. The Fugitive would be proud) and the characters go from the original theater to a different one, where a weird janitor and some creepy music informs us that we are indeed watching a genre film.
To its credit, it doesn’t waste much time getting to the kills, and it seemingly unfolds almost in real time from the moment where all of the characters are aware that they are trapped with a killer. But that’s also one of its problems – we haven’t had any time to differentiate between the complete strangers who make up our cast (I had trouble telling two of the males apart in particular), or know their names when they are mentioned. “Where’s Rob?” someone will ask, and I’m just thinking “WHO is Rob?”. In other words, caring about any of them is impossible, but unlike even an MPAA-mangled Friday the 13th entry, the kills aren’t anything to look forward to. Even New Blood (the most eviscerated entry) had the sleeping bag kill.
So that just leaves story, which is a mess. There’s a couple of killers, with different motives – something that would be fine if used in any meaningful way, but it just seems like a way to pad out the runtime; our main killer is taken out (via a sword fight! Points for novelty, I guess), and then another character we had forgotten about comes back and helps add another 15 minutes to the thing. Thanks, asshole. Supernatural elements also come into play, and like everything else, are too vague to be particularly interesting. There’s an inkling of a decent idea here about people disrespecting theatrical works (Shakespeare in particular), but there’s absolutely nothing compelling about the way it is presented here.
To sum it up (there’s no sense going on and on, this movie is remarkably obscure for a fairly recent American horror movie – I couldn’t even find another review! Clearly no one cares, nor should they), the movie is just THERE. It’s aimless and tone-deaf, features not one memorable moment or performance, and simply doesn’t work on any level. It’s the type of bad that doesn’t even get me angry at the time/money wasted on putting it together; I might as well get angry at wind or upset at the sky. It’s just another movie that makes the Netflix streaming library look more impressive than it actually is, and nothing more.
What say you?