Movie Review: THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL (2012)


“Three individuals have, somehow, found their way to a carnival, set in hell, and run by the devil.  The trio is made up of a kleptomaniac, an obsessed father, and a gullible teenager, all of whom are doomed to repeat the very sins that delivered them to the carnival’s doorsteps.”

I needed some time to think about this movie for many reasons.  One of those reasons is that I’m about to start designing my own horror attractions and this movie was shown to me to give me inspiration.  The other reason being that this movie is done by the same director, Darren Lynn Bousman, and writer/actor, Terrance Zdunich, who did Repo! The Genetic Opera – which is a movie I couldn’t even finish the first time I watched it.

I absolutely loved this movie (I use the term “movie” lightly – as this is only 45 minutes long) and I loved the design and the feel of it.  It was a surprise to me when I found out it was done by the same people that did Repo! as I was bored to tears with that movie.  What I really liked about Devil’s Carnival is how dark the movie is, how the “sins” are actually something that people (for the most part) could relate too, and that Lucifer teaches each individual about their sin through Aesop’s Fables.  Actually, the use of Aesop’s Fables is probably the best thing about how this movie was done.  I can’t express how much I really enjoyed that.

I’m not sure how Bousman went from Repo! to Devil’s Carnival, but my friend told me that essentially the studio was too involved with Repo! and Bousman did Devil’s Carnival as his own (in response to not doing a sequel to Repo!) with little involvement (if any) from the studio.  If that’s the case, it explains why I loved Carnival more.  However, I feel like it’s only fair to give Repo! another shot – as friends have told me it’s really worth it (I also have a thing for Anthony head hehe).

I also love the people that were cast for this movie.  One of my all-time favorite movies is “Boondock Saints” so it was awesome to see Sean Patrick Flanery in something new and different.  If anyone knows me, they know that I HATE the movie House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects; however, I am a fan of Bill Moseley so I really enjoyed seeing him in a non-Rob Zombie movie.  Lastly, I’ve really begun thinking about doing horror pin-up – it’s something that has been on my mind for the last 6 months or so and during this movie I was “introduced” to the actress and musician Emilie Autumn.  She pretty much embodies what I would like to do with horror pin-up.  I’ve now become a huge fan of her and look forward to learning and seeing more of her.

One of my favorite favorite favorite things about this movie was the set design.  As most of you know, I’m an interior designer and my next “career step” is to focus on doing horror themed attractions (ex. Set design for Halloween Horror Nights).  My friend was dead on for showing me this movie to give me inspiration for designs.  It was dark and creepy and I loved the carnival theme.  I love how everything was just dead and falling apart.  It was dirty and gross yet captivating and horrific and beautiful and mesmerizing.  You know design is done well when it evokes an emotion out of you – this one definitely did.  You could tell that their budget wasn’t huge but they didn’t need it – you knew exactly the type of place they were just by what they were able to accomplish within their design budget.  I loved even the wardrobe and makeup – clothes were filthy and destroyed and makeup was running down the girl’s faces etc.  It was very clear that this carnival was hell and not heaven.  Also, the music was pretty fucking badass.  Not one of the songs bored me – I believe that they all fit perfectly within the story.

I can say with full confidence that this movie gets a 5 skulls out of 5 skulls from me.  It was not scary but it evoked feelings and emotions from me that other movies of this genre haven’t done.  If I ever become a well-known horror designer I will always look back at this movie as inspiration for wanting to become a part of this genre.  I highly recommend all of you to go see this movie and I’m looking forward to The Devil’s Carnival: Alleluia! – hopefully it gets released soon!

Shannon McGrew
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