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  • Writer's pictureMartyn Wakefield


Dir. Darren Lynn Bousman

Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield

A few years back, Darren Lynn Bousman made his name with his continuation of the SAW saga. Since then, Bousman has delved into every sub-genre of horror including demonology 11-11-11, psychological thriller THE BARRENS, crazy family sadists in MOTHERS DAY and in 2008, even turned his hand to horror musical, REPO: THE GENETIC OPERA. Creating a cult classic that has taken on a status of its own becoming the 21st Century’s ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW.

And less than 4 years later Bousman brings us THE DEVILS CARNIVAL a new musical that centres around said carnival and the inhabitants it welcomes. Taking the show on a hefty tour of the states along with the stars of the show including Bill Moselely, Emilie Autumn, Shaun Crahan and Briana Evigan. And after receiving huge praise from critics and fans alike, it is now time for the carnival to travel overseas and we have golden tickets.

Opening up with the deaths of a thief Ms. Merrywood (Evigan), liar and cheat Tamara (Jessica Lowndes) and the suicide of grieving father John (Sean Patrick Flannery). All have which are sinners and have earned a one-way ticket to the Devil’s Carnival aka Hell itself.

The plot interweaves between the three sinners and their journey through the carnival, all told and represented by three of Aesop’s Fables. All welcomed by the “family” and introduced to the 666 rules held in Hell and the promise that the big man himself, will be intervening with tonight’s show.

Tamara’s story is represented by “The Scorpion and the Frog”. When she enters the carnival she is welcomed by stage act, The Scorpion who asks for her trust as they romance around and lead each other away. Tamara is smitten and trusts him only to see him embracing with the Painted Doll (Emilie Autumn). Begging for her trust he sways her toward, only to prick her with his sting.

When Ms Merrywood awakes, she finds herself smitten with jewels and a mirror with the sign “Don’t trust this person” pointing straight at it. Taking from the fable “The Dog and It’s Reflection”, her greed takes over seeking more and more and finally comes across The Twin (Nivek Ogre) who entices her with a diamond for a game.

And finally, the seemingly innocent John seeks for the shadow of his son and reflects “Grief and His Due” and the Devil wants a leading role in this one.

As beautifully matched these tales are to their sinners, THE DEVIL'S CARNIVAL pairs the macabre with the insane through the medium of song in a way like no other. The few flaws that we had with REPO have been patched up with THE DEVILS CARNIVAL. The songs piece together and don’t detract from the story, moreover, they make the story and there are plenty of memorable sing-a-longs which will make you buy the album as well as the film.

The real stars of the film are the carnies, perfectly assembled to balance the freaky with the darkly humorous tone that travels with the carnival. What Bousman has done is take everything that was so unique with REPO and fixed the format to perfection with great storytelling and even better songs.

With a stellar cast, fantastic songs and all the dark torment and originality expected from Mr Bousman. If this is Hell, we’ll be sinning and singing for a long time yet.

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