Baddie – Weaknesses of human character.
Lesson – Pay heed to your failures, should they come up again.
You guys might recall that I started my year with an in-depth post about the assumed (but sadly unconfirmed) outrage regarding the muddy creative waters surrounding Repo! The Genetic Opera and the
ripoff similar movie Repo Men. That post concluded that there were never any sequel possibilities to Repo! because the creators no longer had the rights to the story. Suspicious. I suspect Hollywood bought the rights to avoid lawsuits regarding the similarities in the later produced Repo Men but that’s just my opinion. In either case, Zdunich made The Devil’s Carnival instead. It’s fairly short, coming in just under and hour, so you should check it out. It also features many recurring actors from Repo!.
The plot is based on some Aesop’s Fables. Some less-than-savory souls end up at the Devil’s Carnival, aka a carnival run by Satan. It’s a musical, in case you were wondering, and as I mentioned, features many of the voices from Repo! including Zdunich himself, who has the most magnificent baritone. If Zdunich would like, sing to me all the time, I would be a happy girl. I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but I would legitimately marry his voice alone.
The styling, both for set and for characters, is honestly delightful. Giving this team a few years to really mature has proven quite beneficial. Circus styling, especially, can run very disjointed, repetitive, or cheesy. I can’t pretend it’s all impeccable, but it’s delightful. There are solid prosthetics, although some aren’t lit particularly well. Well, the sepia/warmth is a little overwhelming sometimes.
Sometimes the acting is oversold, even for the setting. The most egregious perpetrator being Ogre, of Skinny Puppy fame. To his credit, he’s the most ridiculous character in Repo! as well – he plays Pavi. Perhaps more notably, this is a movie that pays exceptional attention to it’s extras. An ensemble casting, if you will. No one slacks off and everyone is dressed and styled to the nines. Camera shots are tight enough on the actors that the chaos doesn’t get overwhelming unless they want it to.
The music is clearly by the same team, and it has the same distinct feel. I love about 90% of the music in Repo! so I’m expecting about the same reaction here. The songs serve largely as exposition, which is of course totally fine, but they are more simple lyrically and vocally. The orchestrations are more plentiful though, with large carnival-esque horn sections and such. Everyone does a fairly good job singing, some people doing a fantastic job. Emilie Autumn channels some hardcore Amanda Palmer/Kristin Chenoweth love-child singing. The duet between the Devil and John (the father) is gorgeous.
We are taken through, in a very surreal fashion, the three Aesop’s fables. “The Dog and Her Reflection,” regarding a covetous thief; “The Scorpion and the Frog,” about a woman too trusting in love; and “The Devil and his Due,” about the last soul, a tormented father seeking his lost son.
So, while definitely a more mature production, I think I would still opt for Repo! for sheer entertainment value. The Devil’s Carnival has a strange ambivalence to it, because not everyone is inherently guilty, just victims of typical human weaknesses, like greed, vulnerability, and grief. Definitely a good use of an hour though.