The Devil’s Carnival (2012) – “I’ve been called many things: the chaos in the story, the anarchy in your thoughts”

Written by Yara

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The devil and his domains are not a fresh subject in Hollywood, several directors, producers and studios have already dabbled in the unknown mysteries of the prince of darkness. However, there is always room for one more adaptation, one more attempt, one more tale destined to bring endless nights of pondering and particular songs on eternal loop. Welcome to the devil’s carnival.

We start the musical (yes! It is a musical) with three souls that, after dying, find themselves in a strange, whimsical carnival surrounded by all sorts of people and cryptic messages. The audience is then lead through the grounds of the carnival observing patiently while all the macabre acts unfold.

Using the Aesop’s fables as original material, the film adapts a few stories abusing of metalanguage to create distinct yet intertwined stories. Each one of the three characters aforementioned is responsible for personifying one fable and suffering the consequences of their “moral”, or in this case, their (the character’s) sin. The premise is very interesting and I was hooked from the very beginning, however, I had a few problems with some elements of the cast. Both sinners and carnies create such interesting and mesmerizing relationships that I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe some of the characters would be better explored if they were played by better actors. On the other hand, The Devil’s Carnival is an ambitious project that used humble US$ 500.000, with that amount of money you have to be realistic.

I’m not saying, however, that all the cast is bad, actually there are only one or two that really bothered me; the film is, still, filled with amazing performances throughout the 55 minutes of entertainment. It is possible to feel this dualistic, “compensating” vibe, for example, some makeups and prosthetics have a few problems, but you can excuse that with the fabulous, well-round outfits; some visual effects are laughable, but others are quite effective in the aesthetic. AND LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THE AESTHETIC! Stunning. The colour schemes combine the bright and cheerful carnival’s colours with the darkness and warmth of hell; the story looks like is being set on a theater stage or a circus ring rather than in a “real” place, which is the most usual convention in films. There’s this beautiful theatrical atmosphere that never fails to captivate me.

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Nonetheless, the best attribute of this film are the songs, each one more bewitching and disturbing than the other, they are all made to fit both the plot and the original fable. Some are built with dark rumor, some are dramatic and filled with grief and others are completely intoxicating; but all of them are consistent and perfectly placed. By the way, the editing of this film is very good.

The Devil’s Carnival is well-round creative film that is worth the experience; it is interesting to see a new approach to such material, combining gracefully several iconic elements and making everything work harmoniously. It has carnivals, songs, horror, old literature, insanity… and carnivals!

But beware, the carnies are doing all the dirty work and heavy lifting while the devil is recluse reading stories because he has a much bigger plan hidden behind his horns.

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