Movie Review – The Devil’s Carnival (2012)

The Devil’s Carnival (2012) is the second collaboration of Darren Bousman and writer Terrance Zdunich, who also stars, after 2008’s Repo! The Genetic Opera. After years of talk about a possible sequel to that film, the pair decided to instead embark on another horror musical entirely. The Devil’s Carnival’s approach is less rock opera and more cabaret, and it presents a scenario in which three damned souls are sent to a carnival run by the devil, their tales each being based upon one of Aesop’s fables.

Like Repo!, there’s a lot to like about this film, not the least of which is its very premise. The costume designs are fun and seemingly meant to once again appeal to the Goth crowd and one of musical numbers really intrigued me, likening the story of “The Scorpion and the Frog” to a girl who dates an obviously abusive man, complete with references to his stinging “prick.” Also, there’s a really well done number during the credits which tells the story of a girl on a ship who tries to stay awake because she’s convinced she’ll drown in her sleep, and I wish it had been included in the actual film.

All that being said the movie as a whole left me underwhelmed. The other songs are mediocre and the set is more cluttered than sinister. Nivek Ogre from Skinny Puppy makes a cameo, but his number is cut in half and unremarkable. The script suffers from too many characters and too little development, and the horror payoffs are unfortunately predictable and anti-climactic. Even at only 55 minutes the film still seems padded, and it feels like the actors weren’t always sure what to do within a scene, or the director for that matter. (To be fair, I read that Briana Evigan was cast just hours before shooting her musical number).

It’s not a bad film, and I actually like it slightly better than Repo!, but one that doesn’t meet the potential of its style or premise.

Grade: C-