Have you committed any sins as of late? Well, if you have, and you die, you might just find yourself in hell at:
THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL (2012)
Three souls enter the Devil’s Carnival and are faced with the sins they committed when they were alive.
If you like musicals, then The Devil’s Carnival is right up your alley. It’s an inventive, colourful film filled with intriguing characters and catchy tunes. The set design and make-up are top notch and the cast of Carnival freaks are varied and wonderful. But I must admit, I wasn’t completely sold on the film. I’ll come back to that in a moment.
John (Sean Patrick Flanery), Ms. Merrywood (Briana Evigan), and Tamara (Jessica Lowndes) have committed sins that are against the rules made out by the Devil. That’s why they have all been sent to hell a.k.a The Devil’s Carnival. It is here they must face their sins, performed by the carnival’s local inhabitants. John is guilty of giving into his grief, slitting his wrists over the loss of his child. Ms. Merrywood is a kleptomaniac and only thinks about possessions. And poor Tamara’s crime is a repeated crime, for constantly falling for the wrong men. All of the character’s stories are based on Aesop’s Fables; “Grief and his Due”, “The Dog and its Reflection,” and “The Scorpion and the Frog.”
The film boasts some excellent set-pieces and the carny regulars are a delight to watch. However, the story, or fables, lack tension. The tone and atmosphere are nicely set up, and the world in which hell operates is a lively one. But we’re thrown into the middle of three stories with very little time to care for, or understand the characters. John is given the most tragic of stories, the death of his son. But other than that we are given very little. The same goes for Ms. Merrywood and Tamara. They are extremely one-dimensional and it becomes a struggle to sympathize with them.
Another issue with the film is its running time. It only has a running time of 56 minutes and that is hardly enough time to get to know the characters. Why these three people particularly? Why did the devil choose them out of all the people in the world? What’s so important about them? The main problem is the film feels like an extended music video, best suited for another medium. And although the musical numbers are entertaining, more time should have been spent on character development.
But I did really enjoy the aesthetics the movie was going for and I cannot compliment the production team enough. It looks amazing, from the lighting, to the make-up, to the sets. I wanted to see more from this world. And coming from the writer (Terrance Zdunich) and director (Darren Lynn Bousman) of Repo: the Genetic Opera, I expected something bigger. However, they have stated that this is only episode one of three. But if we are strictly talking about film conventions, as a movie, The Devil’s Carnival doesn’t quite work.
That said, I did enjoy the tunes and style of the movie. And I will be curious to see what comes from the next chapter in this intriguing (if not flawed) tale of the afterlife.
Best Line: “Has anyone seen The Scorpion? A rebel in Hell… how original.”
Best Moment: Ms. Merrywood tries to win herself a beautiful diamond.