The Devil’s Carnival is an experiment short musical created by Darren Lynn Bousman and various cast members from Repo! The Genetic Opera. The film tries to combine elements of horror, musicals and Aesop’s fables. Does it succeed? Let’s take a look.
The film follows the grieving John (Sean Patrick Flanery), the overly-trusting Tamara (Jessica Lowndes) and the thieving Ms. Merrywood (Briana Evigan). Each of whom are (supposedly) based on one of Aesop’s fables: Merrywood is based on The Dog and Its Reflection, John represents Grief and His Due and Tamara is based on The Scorpion and the Frog. They all die and are literally sent to Hell. This version of Hell is a run-down carnival, where the employees torture people in the shows while singing about it.
First, we will look at the pros. The makeup and effects are good and effective. The characters look like they way they should. The premise is creative and unique. The film creates a very dark atmosphere.
Now, it’s time for the cons. When they are understandable, the lyrics are poorly written such as “666”, where they keep on rhyming the word “666” with itself, or “A Penny for a Tale”, where the person singing is demanding money despite singing about how horrible greed is. The only decent song is “In All My Dreams, I Drown”, which they put in the ending credits. The Aesop fable premise is weak since The Scorpion and the Frog isn’t an Aesop fable (it’s a variation of actual Aesop fable The Farmer and the Viper) and John has nothing to do with Grief and His Due. When it comes to Tamara’s subplot, if you know the fable, you’ll know what’s going to happen to Tamara. The film explains nothing about the premise (I only know it after seeing a review of it). For example, Paul Sorvino’s character is God, but you would just think he was just some inept toymaker based on what is in the film. Nothing is accomplished in the film aside from the Devil deciding to overthrow Heaven for no reason (which they hammered into the end). We know nothing about our protagonists aside from their one defining characteristic, which I listed. The film’s isn’t scary enough for horror fans or gory enough for gore fans, despite seemly trying to appeal to both.
In my opinion, The Devil’s Carnival is a failed experiment. While it has good effects, the writing is poor and the songs are terrible. I give it 3 out of 10. So, I recommend skipping it.