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The Devil’s Carnival – 7

Director – Darren Lynn Bousman

Cast – Sean Patrick Flanery, Jessica Lowndes, Mark Senter, Terrence Zdunich, Emilie Autumn, Shem Andre Byron, Dayton Callie, Shawn Crahan, Briana Evigan

Release Year – 2012

Reviewed by John of the Dead

Darren Lynn Bousman has remained one of my favorite horror directors over the years thanks to his solid outputs in Saw II/III/IV and epic horror musical Repo! The Genetic Opera, and I just had to see his most recent horror musical, The Devil’s Carnival. Coming in at a cool 55 minutes, this horror short is the second collaboration between Bousman and Repo! writer Terrence Zdunich and apparently the first of three episodes in a series of horror musicals. Returning several of the stars from Repo!, The Devil’s Carnival is another great musical experience from Bousman and Zdunich, a duo accomplishing something few others in the genre (aside from Travis Betz) can do.

When the sudden deaths of three unrelated individuals, John, Ms. Merrywood, and Tamara result in their souls being sent to hell, they are forced to relive their sins and transgressions in Lucifer(Terrence Zdunich)’s horrific carnival.

This story is told in the vein of Aesop’s Fables, with John representing “Grief and His Due”, Ms. Merrywood representing “The Dog and Its Reflection, and Tamara representing “The Scorpion and the Frog”. After a short introduction our protagonists are killed and sent to a Hell that is much different than the fire and brimstone we normally perceive Hell to be like. There are many vibrant carnies who aid in the slow-burning torment of our main characters, and I really liked that they were not immediately thrown into torment but deceived and played with by Lucifer and his crew. They each suffer their own different torments based on their Aesop Fable as well as the sins they committed that lead to their souls suffering eternal torment. There are twelve songs written into this 55 minute experience and for the most part they are interesting, enjoyable, and written by the actors that sing them – including Paul Sorvino, Alexa Vega, Bill Moseley, and Sean Patrick Flannery. I personally did not enjoy the songs in this film as much as I did the ones in Repo! and I believe that to be due to the musical style being quite different. With this being a carnival flick the music is much tamer than the “industrial”-esque songs of Repo! but this is merely opinion and not a knock against the film.

Bousman’s direction is great and he does very well with this being the most low-budget film of his career. The visuals are amazing and the sets used are cheap but effective for this stage-like musical, and all of the effects come to us in live-action fashion without CGI. I really enjoyed the look of Lucifer’s carnies and found them to each be unique in their own way and unlike the typical demons you would associate with Hell. With this being a musical you can be assured that Bousman achieves the most from the many actors involved, and their performances, both singing and acting, were second best only behind the incredible visuals.

Overall, The Devil’s Carnival is another great notch in Darren Lynn Bousman’s celluloid belt and a treat for those seeking a horror musical. It is not as great as his previous musical, Repo! The Genetic Opera, but at 55 minutes it gives you a quick horror fix when you need it.

Rating: 7/10

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