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MAGNOLIA

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Jerome Sable
Cast:
Allie MacDonald, Douglas Smith, Meat Loaf, Minnie Driver
Writing Credits:
Jerome Sable

Tagline:
Sing Your Heart Out!

Synopsis:
A snobby musical theater camp is terrorized by a blood-thirsty killer who hates musical theater.

Box Office:
Budget
$25 million.
Opening Weekend
$3562 on 6 Screens.
Domestic Gross
$3562

MPAA:
Rated R

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 88 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 7/8/2014

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director/Co-Composer Jerome Sable and Co-Composer Eli Batalion
• “The Making of Stage Fright” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• “In Memory of the Fallen Camper” Featurette
• Sing-Along
• Interview with Writer/Director/Co-Composer Jerome Sable and Co-Composer Eli Batalion
• “The Evolution of the Set Design” Featurette
• “AXS TV: A Look at Stage Fright” Featurette
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Stage Fright [Blu-Ray] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 7, 2014)

In the annals of cinema history, one won’t find a lot of horror-comedy-musicals. 2014’s Stage Fright seeks to add to that small list.

Camilla Swanson (Allie MacDonald) wants to be a musical theater performer just like her mother Kylie (Minnie Driver), a star who died when a mystery man murdered her. Rather than get the chance to sing, Camilla finds herself stuck as a worker at a performing arts camp run by her stepfather Roger McCall (Meat Loaf).

Despite Roger’s attempts to keep her down, Camilla auditions for the camp’s big show and wins the lead. Unfortunately for her, history repeats, as someone seems determined to see Camilla end up just like her dear departed mother. We follow the drama as a psycho killer stalks the camp and the body count rises.

If nothing else, Fright deserves credit for ambition. As I mentioned at the start, it delves into a genre that barely exists, and it also gives us a rare movie musical not based on an existing property. Virtually every recent big screen musical comes from a Broadway success like Mamma Mia! or Rock of Ages; there’s probably been an original movie musical since 1999’s South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, but I can’t think of it.

Unfortunately, Fright does little to make me wish we got more projects like it, as it seems high on concept and low on inspiration. For all intents and purposes, it comes across more like a conglomeration of influences/references in search of its own identity. We get links to horror flicks like Sleepaway Camp and musicals such as Phantom of the Opera. Of course, the focus on characters in love with the performing arts makes a big old nod to Glee as well.

Fright can’t manage to combine those components into a satisfying whole. The horror lacks terror, the musical moments seem limp and derivative, and the comedy falls flat. The movie doesn’t quite embrace its status as a parody, so it flops in that department.

All of this means a distinct lack of focus. Fright flits from one conceit to another without coherence, and that leaves us with an inconsistent effort. If any one of the various elements succeeded, it could carry the others, but there’s just no inspiration on display.

Even the ultimate identity of the killer lacks suspense. Fright sets up a long list of potential suspects, but the identity of the actual murderer becomes obvious maybe 10 minutes into the film; after that we just wait for the inevitable “shocking reveal”.

I respect the ambition behind Stage Fright but the end result leaves me cold. There’s a decent movie buried in here somewhere but the product on screen lacks the coherence and quality to become something memorable.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B-/ Bonus B

Stage Fright appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The transfer satisfied but didn’t excel.

For the most part, the movie showed good definition. Occasional soft shots materialized and the image sometimes lacked the definition I expect from Blu-ray, but it mustered more than acceptable sharpness the vast majority of the time. No issues with shimmering or moire effects appeared, and I witnessed no edge haloes or print flaws.

In terms of palette, Fright went with a somewhat pale sensibility. It tended toward an amber tint with the occasional teal as well; the latter appeared mainly in horror scenes. The colors lacked much vivacity but they seemed decent. Blacks were fairly dark and dense, and shadows showed good delineation. I thought this was a watchable presentation but not a great one.

Similar thoughts greeted the decent DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Stage Fright. As expected, music dominated the soundfield, so the songs and score showed good stereo presence. Effects added passable environmental information and created a bit of pep during some of the more action-oriented sequences, but those components remained subdued most of the time. This was a film that emphasized music above all else, so that side of the mix became most significant.

Audio quality seemed fine. Speech was concise and natural, without edginess or other issues. Effects were accurate and tight, while music appeared lively and full. This was a workable soundtrack.

The Blu-ray includes a pretty ample collection of extras, and we launch with an audio commentary from writer/director/co-composer Jerome Sable and co-composer Eli Batalion. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at songs and score, costumes/production design, sets and locations, effects, editing, cast and performances, influences, and some other domains.

Batalion and Sable combine for a chatty and sporadically informative piece. I like that they cover a fair amount of territory, but they also joke around too much, a trait that makes the track feel like a collection of inside jokes at times. We get a breezy overview but not a great examination of the film.

A featurette called The Making of Stage Fright goes for nine minutes, 18 seconds and includes notes from Sable, Batalion, producers Ari Lantos and Jonas Bell Pasht, choreographer Paul Becker, costume designer Michael Ground, and actors Meat Loaf, Minnie Driver, Allie MacDonald, Douglas Smith, and Brandon Uranowitz. “Making” looks at story/character areas, the movie’s tone/emphasis, sets and locations, musical elements, costumes, and effects. We get a decent summary but nothing anything memorable here.

Deleted Scenes fill a total of three minutes, 43 seconds. We find “Camilla on Broadway” (0:53) and “X Marks the Spot” (2:50). The former offers a minor addition to the film’s ending, while the latter presents a little more tension in terms of the threat at the camp. Neither one adds anything useful.

A segment called In Memory of a Fallen Camper runs a mere one minute, 59 seconds. These show deleted scenes that feature Bethany, the movie’s Liza Minnelli-obsessed character. It’s weird that the sequence claims Bethany wasn’t in the final cut, but it’s fun to see clips that focus on her Liza fascination.

Under Stage Fright Sing-Along, we can follow Karaoke versions of seven movie tunes. These occupy a total of 17 minutes, 59 seconds in this innocuous bonus.

We hear more from the commentary subjects in an Interview with Writer/Director/Co-Composer Jerome Sable and Co-Composer Eli Batalion. It fills 17 minutes, seven seconds with their thoughts about their partnership and the movie’s development, influences, cast, performances and practical elements, and music. Some of the material repeats from the commentary, but the interview adds enough new information to make it worth a look.

Another brief piece, The Evolution of the Set Design goes for one minute, 38 seconds. This compilation lets us compare concept art to final sets – and see different iterations developed along the way. It becomes a good take on the subject matter.

Finally, AXS TV: A Look at Stage Fright runs two minutes, 57 seconds and includes notes from Lantos, Pasht, Driver, Loaf, Batalion, and MacDonald. Virtually all of the comments already appear in the “Making of” program, so this becomes a redundant promotional piece.

The disc opens with ads for Nymphomaniac, Filth, The Sacrament and The Protector. These appear under Also from Magnolia Entertainment as well, and we get the trailer for Stage Fright too.

At its heart, Stage Fright could become a fun mix of horror, comedy and music. Unfortunately, it can’t come together in an effective way, as it melds the elements in an unsatisfying, scattershot manner. The Blu-ray provides acceptable audio and picture as well as a pretty good set of supplements. Parts of Fright show promise but the final result falls flat.

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