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Film / The Devil's Carnival

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"Tongues, tongues, slither in the mud; that’s how a carnival grows, my son."

The Devil's Carnival is a short film directed by Darren Lynn Bousman and Terrance Zdunich. It is a Spiritual Successor of sorts to their previous cult hit Repo! The Genetic Opera with several actors returning in different roles.

The story revolves around three desperate individuals who find themselves at a carnival set in Hell run by Lucifer (played by Zdunich) himself. There they endure the repetition of the transgressions that lead them to Hell in the first place.

A sequel, Alleluia! The Devil's Carnival, was released in 2015.

This film provides examples of:

  • Aesop's Fables: Lucifer likes to tell stories from this; the sinners' stories correspond to various fables (The Dog and Its Reflection, The Scorpion and the Frog, and Grief and His Due). This adds a more metaphorical feel to the film's version of Hell- two of the three sinners aren't actually "sinful" by modern interpretations, but their mistakes trap them in suffering nonetheless.
  • Audience Participation: Starting to crop up. For example, after The Scorpion stabs Tamara:
  • Author Appeal:
    • When asked what his favorite part of the filming was, Terrence Zdunich revealed that he left in the middle of his lengthy Lucifer makeup process just to watch Merrywood being whipped by the Tamer.
    • Clown, who played the Tamer, said that was his favorite part too.
  • Bawdy Song: "Prick! Goes The Scorpion's Tale".
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The Painted Doll.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Um, Sean Patrick Flanery, you have something stuck in your teeth there during "Grief".
  • Circus of Fear: It's run by Lucifer! What did you expect?
  • Cut Song: "In All My Dreams I Drown" was supposed to be in the film, but was cut because of redundancy.
  • Dragged Off to Hell: 'Nough said.
  • Driven to Suicide: John's son went missing and was presumed dead, which caused him to cut his wrists and end up in hell, where he eventually found out his son died, and he found it out from Lucifer, no less.
  • Double Entendre:
    • "Prick! Goes The Scorpion's Tale" is one big, long one.
    • When the Ticket-Keeper says to John "Didn't I warn you that cutting was against the rules?" Makes sense when you consider why John is in hell. he killed himself by cutting his wrists
  • Final Girl: Gender Flipped. The two female sinners, Tamara and Ms. Merrywood, fail to overcome their sins and are trapped in hell while John succeeds at overcoming his grief and gets into heaven.
  • Foreshadowing: Of a sort. In "666," the only one of the rules specifically mentioned in the lyrics is "No cutting in line." Guess which rule John breaks later.
  • Girl Posse: Wick and the Woe-Maidens.
  • God: Played by Paul Sorvino, of all people.
  • God Is Evil / Satan Is Good: Implied by the end, when Lucifer apparently decides he's tired of punishing the guilty on God's behalf and announces that Hell is going to become a place of redemption.
  • Grief Song: John's song is appropriately titled "Grief".
  • Heaven Versus Hell: The ending hints at a growing war between Heaven and Hell.
  • Honey Trap: The Scorpion is a male version.
  • Lawful Stupid:
    • The carnival would be considered this since at least half of the 666 rules don't make sense.
    • Wouldn't be a lot of fun for the carnies if sinners could obey all the rules.
  • Light Is Not Good:
    • God is indifferent to the suffering of his creations. He is depicted as a toymaker who throws away everything that isn't completely perfect, rather than try and fix anything that is broken.
    • Word of God has said that God and the angels are darker than Lucifer and his carnies.
  • Monster Clown: A good number of The Carnies.
  • Mood Whiplash: And how. At one point, it goes from Scorpion and Tamara flirting to John frantically looking for his son.
  • Number of the Beast: Guess how many rules Hell has (to the point that Paw Dugan said that you pretty much can't do anything in Hell without breaking a rule).
  • Rule of Three: Each story is told three times. There are three stories, three people. It attempts to have the third telling of the third story be a twist by breaking the first two stories pattern of three retellings of the same story.
  • Self-Inflicted Hell: Somewhat. The dead guests don't land in this Hell exclusively via being bad people (though Merrywood's actual sinful nature doesn't do her any favors), but rather through being unable to overcome their mistakes and thus trapping themselves in haunting repetitions of the things that made them miserable in life.
  • Ship Tease: Various times, between various couples, particulary Wick and the Magician, who spend an awful lot of time hanging off each other.
  • Take That!: God gets a couple of these via Lucifer.
  • Villain Song: Several.
    • "Trust Me", sung by The Scorpion.
    • "Heaven's All Around", sung by God.
    • "Kiss the Girls", sung by Wick and her Woe Maidens.