#299 -- The Devil's Carnival (2012)
Rating: 3 / 5
I didn't know anything about this movie going into it. I found it on Netflix, and I thought it sounded interesting. The synopsis Netflix gave me was something along the lines of lost souls being trapped in hell, forced to face the sins they committed. It sounded pretty cool. But, little did I know, it was directed by the same guy who directed Repo! The Genetic Opera. I didn't like "Repo," so if I had known that going in, I probably would have been more hesitant about it. On the other side of things, if I'd known that he also directed three Saw movies, I probably would have been more hopeful; I probably would have also been more disappointed. Anyways, the point is, I didn't know what I was getting myself into. I saw that Emilie Autumn was one of the stars, which intrigued me. I don't know that much of her music, but she does have one song that I happen to love. Seeing her name should have given me a little hint as to what I was getting into, but I guess I'm naive. I had no idea that I was about to watch a musical. The lead singer for one of my favorite bands, Five Finger Death Punch, was also in the movie; but I didn't care for his part, or the song that he sang, which is a huge disappointment.
What Netflix told me was pretty much spot on, because that's pretty much all there is to it. At the beginning, we see three people die. One was John, who committed suicide in his bathroom for unknown reasons. The second was Tamara, who was apparently murdered by her abusive boyfriend or husband. The third was Merryweather, a jewel thief, who we can assume was killed by police once they caught up with her. The movie is narrated by The Devil, who tells the stories from a book of Aesop's Fables. John wanders around Hell looking for his son, though I have no idea what his son might have been doing there. I think that maybe his son had died, and that was the reason that he killed himself. The Devil did say something about him giving into grief, so it makes sense. But toward the end, it hints that maybe John hated his son and wished that he'd never been born, so again, why was he looking for him in Hell? I'm not sure if his "sin" was the hatred for his son, or the simple fact that he committed suicide. I don't understand why Tamara was there at all. Again, it looked like she was killed by an abusive man, so why should she be blamed for that and sent to hell? Once she got there, she met a guy they called Scorpion. He asked for her help, and promised to protect her. Once he gained her trust, he killed her. This is the fable that I actually recognized, "The Scorpion and the Frog." I guess her sin was that she trusted people too easily, but is that really a sin at all? Merryweather was understandable. She was a thief, she was greedy, and no matter how much she had, it was never enough. She lost everything gambling to gain more possessions.
I didn't really understand the story. I didn't get why these people ended up there, and I didn't understand the things that happened to them once they were in Hell. There was also very little character development. That, and the fact that their stories were impossible to understand, made it very difficult to care at all. The musical aspect of the movie was better than the story, though not by much. They sounded good, and all of the singers were talented; but the songs weren't catchy enough to love, and they were hard for me to understand without looking up the lyrics. Even then, I didn't get the point that they were trying to make. Visually, the movie was incredible. It was all cast in an eerie red lighting, to create more of a Hellish atmosphere, and it looked wonderful. The carnival setting was absolutely beautiful, and all of the demons were great. There were also some ladies dressed like little gothic dolls, and they definitely were easy on the eyes. I was engaged throughout the movie, and interested in seeing where it went next. But sadly, it didn't really go anywhere.
Overall, I think it was a good idea that didn't quite work out. I liked the premise, but it was too hard to follow and I didn't understand the story it was trying to tell. I liked it better than Repo, but not by much. In fact, I feel like I'm reviewing Repo again, because I said basically the same things about it: good idea, but it didn't play out all that well. But with The Devil's Carnival, I at least didn't feel annoyed at the musical aspect of the movie. So I guess I've go to give it props for that.