By mashing up so many genres, filmmaker Jerome Sable has made a thoroughly entertaining romp that's impossible to categorise. It may not work fully as a horror thriller, comedy, musical, coming-of-age drama or spoof, but it's hugely entertaining on all of those levels. Yes, this is a movie that scares us one minute, then has us laughing at some surprisingly sophisticated humour the next.
It's been 10 years since Kylie (Minnie Driver) was killed on the night her star-making show opened on Broadway. Now her children Camilla and Buddy (Allie Macdonald and Douglas Smith) are working at Center Stage performing arts camp, run by their guardian Roger (Meat Loaf). And this summer's big show will be a revival of their mother's fateful musical, The Haunting of the Opera, staged as Japanese kabuki by self-proclaimed genius director Artie (Brandon Uranovitz). Camilla is determined to get the lead role, sucking up to a cute crew member (Kent Nolan) who has a crush on her and then engaging in a battle with Liz (Melanie Leishman), her rival for the part. Meanwhile, a mysterious figure is creeping around the camp, and pretty much everyone has a motive for murder.
The film is skilfully shot and edited, with straight-faced performances heightening the subtle comedy that flows through every scene. Some moments are pure pastiche, while the songs merrily blur the lines between the movie we're watching and the stage musical these theatre brats are putting on. And the cast is terrific. MacDonald and Smith engagingly anchor the central plot, while Meat Loaf has a ball as the all-singing ex-producer who wants to get back to Broadway. The rest of the ensemble is like the cast of Glee, representing a variety of types who are willing to break into another bouncy song at the sound of a single note. The killer, by contrast, prefers death metal.
Through all of this, Sable mercilessly subverts every horror movie cliche imaginable, including a series of inventive, gruesome deaths. That it actually works as a teen slasher movie is surprising; we're genuinely unnerved by the violence, and the twist-upon-twist finale is surprising and entertaining. But beyond that, the film is a lot of fun. Even if the understated humour leaves the movie feeling superficial, it's packed with hilarious touches that will keep fans of both musicals and horror movies chuckling.
Run time: 110 mins
In Theaters: Saturday 15th April 1950
Distributed by: IMAX
Production compaines: Serendipity Point Films, Citizen Jones
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Fresh: 16 Rotten: 2
IMDB: 7.1 / 10
Director: Jerome Sable
Producer: Jonas Bell Pasht, Ari Lantos
Screenwriter: Jerome Sable, Eli Batalion