Review: The Devil's Carnival (Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman) (Fantasia 2012)

The Devil's Carnival (Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman) (Fantasia 2012)
6 10

PLOT: Three hell-bound souls enter THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL, where they’re tested and prepared for an eternity of torment under a singing Lucifer (Terrance Zdunich).

REVIEW: Like Darren Lynn Bousman’s REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA, THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL is nothing if not unique. Not quite long enough to be considered a full-on feature film, THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL is actually more akin to a travelling show, with Bousman and co., travelling around from city to city, presenting what amounts to a performance art piece/fusion, that will likely please the hard-core REPO fans that have sprung up since that film’s release.

Bousman brought his act to the Fantasia Film Festival, nearly four years to the date that REPO had its world premiere at the fest, and once again- they pulled in an appreciative crowd. The night began with a juggler, followed by a creepy black mass featuring a scantily clad snake charmer, and a costume contest. This part of the evening was a lot of fun, and the crowd seemed to really eat it up. But- in an effort to pad out the film itself, which seemed to run only an hour or so, Bousman’s made twenty minutes of outtakes and behind the scenes footage from REPO part of the show, which rubbed a few of us the wrong way, as it seemed like something just recycled from the DVD.

Once the feature film version of THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL started, I felt like I was watching REPO all over again, which I suppose was the intention. Bousman and Zdunich have a passion for rock operas, and I have to give them credit for trying to keep the genre alive. My problem is that rather than a half-assed short film (which Bousman teased is only one in a planned series), they should have waited until they had more footage to show- so that they could have junked the REPO leftovers, and had a really original night of entertainment.

Of what we saw, I was mostly entertained. The story follows three sinners (including Sean Patrick Flannery of THE BOONDOCK SAINTS) on their musical journey through hell, and I must admit that I enjoyed the musical numbers here a lot more than I did in REPO. Fantasia-fave Marc Senter (RED, WHITE & BLUE) has a nice bit as a knife-throwing demon called the Scorpion, who tempts the pretty young maiden played by Jessica Lowndes, and to my surprise, the guy carries a tune fairly well. Ditto a great number by Ivan L. Moody as the Hobo Clown, and goth star Emilie Autumn as “The Pointed Doll”. REPO alumnus Paul Sorvino has a really nice bit as the creepiest version of God that you’ll ever see- making Bousman’s version of hell seem relatively benign in comparison.

However, there just wasn’t really enough of THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL to really make it work as a full-on film- even if the evening itself added up to a reasonably good time. If Bousman adds on to the film, than he may indeed have himself another cult hit like REPO, and really- it’s this audience that is going to make or break THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL. For what seems to be a work-in-progress, this isn’t bad.



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