Written and directed by Jerome Sable, Stage Fright follows a group of performing-arts campers as their fun-loving summertime shenanigans are thwarted by the repeated advances of a crazed, masked maniac. There’s little doubt that Stage Fright opens with a fair degree of promise, as Sable kicks things off with a Scream-esque prologue in which Minnie Driver’s Kylie Swanson is murdered in front of her two children. After that, however, the film takes a slow-but-steady nosedive into irrelevence as Sable emphasizes forgettable musical numbers and a mystery that’s beyond obvious – with the narrative’s tedious let’s-put-on-a-show structure exacerbating the movie’s various problems. (It doesn’t help, either, that Sable proves unable to transform any of the characters into wholeheartedly compelling figures, with the various actors trapped in the confines of familiar, one-dimensional archetypes.) The progressively tiresome atmosphere reaches its breaking point with the seemingly endless third act, which, as expected, follows the surviving protagonists as they run, scream, and hide from the knife-wielding psychopath – with the hopelessly anticlimactic revelations that close the proceedings, in the end, confirming Stage Fright‘s place as a pointless and often interminable mess.
* out of ****