Darren Lynn Bousman [Saw II, Saw III, Saw IV and Repo! The Genetic Opera] is back and billing his latest film adventure, The Devil’s Carnival, as hell in its purest form. Commit a sin and you’re sent to an alternate afterlife resembling a freakish carnival where demons are the carnies and the show is your punishment.
Plucked straight out of tales from Aesop’s Fables, we follow the stories of three sinners; Ms. Merrywood the thief [Briana Evigan], Tamara the naïve girl [Jessica Lowndes] and John the grieving father [Sean Patrick Flannery], who all fall victim to their sins and begin a journey through hell, offering a jaw-dropping viewing experience for the audience. Filled with stunning costumes, elaborate sets, and never-ending musical numbers, this film is designed to make you feel like you’re working your way through the mazes of your own never-ending and absolutely stunning nightmare.
Fans of Repo! will wag their happy tails when they see that Bill Moseley, Alexa Vega, Terrance Zdunich [also the films writer], and Nivek Ogre have all returned. Even Paul Sorvino is back as the creator of the world, building baby dolls and throwing the bad ones away, an analogy I really enjoyed. Newcomers include; Marc Senter [the never-changing Scorpion tormenting Tamara], Slipknot’s Shawn Crahan, Emilie Autumn, and Five Finger Punch’s Ivan Moody [Hobo Clown].
With no detail left behind on the imagery and costume work, I presumed that not much time was left to focus on the character development which isn’t lost on bad acting, it just didn’t really exist. The sinners feel like afterthoughts hidden behind shiny pretty things and self-indulgent soliloquies that I sometimes found long and boring. Yes; the thief steals, the naïve girl is victim to irrepressible behavior and the father grieves his son, but why? With the run time coming in at under an hour, I felt there was plenty of time.
I then learn that Bousman and Carnival writer Terrance Zdunich [a fan favorite as the Grave Robber in Repo!] have already confirmed that there will be more in the form of episodes, with part two in pre-production and part three on the writing table now. I think is amazing – taking Aesop’s Fables and turning them into a series of personal hells within the confines of a carnival – it’s great. I just hope the plan isn’t to film them in 1-hour batches and package them up as a film franchise, which would not solve the character development problem. I think the concept would better serve as an original program for television, or perhaps as a digital subscription-based series that plucked out a few characters to develop within each episode. Maybe I don’t want to focus on the ‘why’ of the sin, but instead the ‘what’ of the Devil or the ‘how’ of the demon carnies. I just want to feel something for these visually beautiful creatures. To be fair, there is still a lot of wiggle room and distribution format has not been decided.
One thing is for sure; Bousman, Zdunich and the rest of the Carnival team are absolute ‘ring’ masters [take the pun and run] at audience assimilation and fan loyalty. To promote the film, the team put together a cross-country travelling carnival complete with full film viewing, pre-movie carnival acts, a costume contests for the fans, and a personal Q&A and meet and greet with the entire audience that made the viewing experience so engaging. Darren Lynn Bousman is very passionate about his work and the fans supporting his work, and chose to back the film independently to preserve the integrity of both. It’s quite the gutsy move for the man behind three of the most successful films in the Saw franchise. But after being absolutely absorbed into the energy of a very loyal following and bearing witness to the intense passion put into this project, I have no doubt Bousman’s grassroots endeavors will make The Devil’s Carnival a success.
And Filmmakers take note because THIS needs to happen more often.
Check out thedevilscarnival.com to find out when the show is coming your way.