Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman and written by Terrance Zdunich, The Devil’s Carnival focuses on three characters, John (Sean Patrick Flanery), Ms. Merrywood (Briana Evigan), and Tamara (Jessica Lowndes). All three characters are introduced just as they are staring directly into the face of death, when suddenly they are transported to what seems like another dimension where they are forced to answer for the sins they committed during their life.
The film plays itself out much like an anthology, but all set in the same location; that location being the titular Devil’s carnival. Each character’s story is determined by the influential hands of Lucifer himself (played by writer Terrance Zdunich), following stories that are very much influenced by Aesop’s Fables.
While The Devil’s Carnival appears to be a horror film on the surface (I knew absolutely nothing about the film going into it), the film is a little different from your typical horror movie, as it features numerous musical performances. Those of you familiar with Repo! The Genetic Opera (which was also brought to life by Darren Lynn Bousman and Terrance Zdunich) will have a much better idea of what to expect, and while it wasn’t what I expected, I found this aspect of the movie to be quite refreshing.
What’s most refreshing, however, is the way that the film is presented. The Devil’s Carnival features some incredibly impressive visuals and a unique style that sets it far apart from anything else out there. There’s an amazing attention to detail on display, as it truly feels like a demented carnival in terms of set and costume design, the props and even the actual filmmaking style. The film showcases a visually enticing muted vibrancy, with a color palette that’s dull yet pops with imagination, truly working as the perfect backdrop to the musical performances.
While The Devil’s Carnival is not quite a horror film – at least in a straightforward way – it is a dark, twisted and sinister tale, all aspects that certainly qualify it. Does that mean the average horror fan would like it? That’s tough to say because I’m not the average horror fan. But as a fan of horror, a fan of film, a fan of art, and fan of overall creativity, I found The Devil’s Carnival to be a truly enjoyable oddity that is worth the time of anyone looking for something different.