Be forewarned, this film should not be viewed while operating heavy machinery.
Centering around a handful of annoying, cardboard cutout girls and their frizzy haired, virgin white tracksuit wearing teacher who have taken it upon their charitable selves to spend the night in their spooky school to help raise funds for...eh, something, The Stay Awake proves that never in the history of celluloid has a film's title been more ironic.
Anyhooooo... little do these unfortunately stilted girls know that the spirit of a deranged killer from America has come allllllll the way to South Africa to terrorize them with such threatening things as REALLY loud giggling, foul odors, and some of the worst prank calls this side of, well, nothing really. They're in a league of their own in terms of ineptness. Just wait 'til you see how this "monster" shows itself. It's not likely to cause the Jim Henson Creature Shop to run screaming from the hills in awe.
The Stay Awake has a spooky location, showcased on the VHS box, but that's really about it. The darkened halls provide a good dosage of atmosphere, but the film doesn't know what to do with it. The actors are all uniformly dreadful and I usually don't say that about any film. There's usually at least one actor who knows what they're doing, but is bogged down by a bad script or director or something. Not here! Everyone seems to be taking bets to see who can be the most unrealistically robotic with their line delivery.
I swear that one of the young ladies was popping horse steroids throughout the shoot. She looks like a manlier version of Stockard Channing and speaks in the gruffest voice this side of, eh...once again, I'm floored. There's no one else like her! As a matter of fact, if I had to give The Stay Awake points for anything, it would be for its uniqueness. There's certainly not another film like it and that is NOT a compliment...or maybe it is. I dunno!
Don't expect the film to be a bloodbath either. I'm still not really sure if anyone actually died or not. An elderly groundskeeper gets his heart knocked out of his chest and a young, male prankster is decapitated, but the fates of the girls are sort of left up in the air. The "attack" scenes usually involve the monster slapping people with its tongue much to the delight of yours truly.
Also, can we discuss how a bunch of girls staying awake all night in a school gymnasium watching videos and eating goodies (their word, not mine! I swear!) is going to raise money for anything. I mean, c'mon!
Did I mention that there's A LOT of girls? I swear, there's 20 girls and not one single attempt to distinguish one from the other, besides said horse steroid girl/man/it/creature. The closest we get is when one girl, who is apparently the "fat" girl, although she hardly looks remotely overweight, laments "Oh, great! More torture." as the girl's prepare for a game of volleyball. I think it's clear that she would rather eat goodies (yes, I'm going to keep repeating that word!)
There's a gratuitous shower scene, too! Yet, not so much as a nip slip. Whattttt??? Even if these are some of the most hideous women creatures to ever, er, grace the silver screen, ya gotta give us something to keep us awake. Oh, but they do! Once the girls have finished their shower, one girl jumps up on a locker room bench as the rest of the girls giggle and hum "Hey Big Spender" as she does the most unsexy, uncoordinated striptease the moviegoing public has ever witnessed. Yes, it's awesome!
There are few unintentionally goofy scenes to admire. The film opens with all the girls doing aerobics, which as we all know, was a must for any 80's film, regardless of genre. There's a also a terrific bit where the token black girl discovers the prankster boy's decapitated head inside of a gorilla mask (which was apparently used for the all girls school production of The Jungle Book! Say what?) which causes her to run screaming down the halls away from the safety of her friends on the opposite side of the hall. I think, she keeps running through the halls, screaming, for the rest of the film. BUT the real kicker is that their teacher tells them to just keep going without her. Way to go, teach!
Please, I do not recommend this movie. If you feel the need to stay awake, take these instead.
3 out of 10 virgin white tracksuits!