When’s the last time you’ve watched a Lou Diamond Phillips movie? Check out Carny when it next passes by on DVD, or plays the SyFy Channel again. You’ve seen worse monster movies. The surprising payoff here is body parts galore.
Lou plays a Sheriff, in charge of protecting his two horse town from a traveling carnival that has pitched tent in his neck of the woods – when he picks up on the fact that they plan on showing a creature that may be the devil himself. Whats happened is that the carnival owner has gotten his hands on a real freak of nature. A beast in a cage that is thirsty for human blood.
This film may impress you more than you expect, with the acting attempts being serious and dramatically driven – not played with and delivered with tongue in cheek one liners. BUT – don’t put that tongue away. You’re going to need it when they show the creature. Carny worked very well and above average up until they showed the monster in the cage – the Jersey Devil – a Gozer looking, gargoyle like, bad CGI creature that just takes you right out of any reality or tension that was building. If you’re familiar with that SyFy trope going in, there’s not much else more to gripe about.
The good thing – the gore. You will be surprised how much blood and injury gets shown. The “devil” gets loose and runs around town slaughtering innocent victims, and the remnants it leaves behind are disgusting. Severed limbs galore, and heads with hallowed, eaten out faces are spread out about the film well enough to keep you flowing for 85 minutes without boredom. Its really not bad, if you’re in the mood to accept a SyFy style horror film that earns its R, graphic-violence style.
However – like no other movie Ive seen before, this movie drops an entire skull the last second of the tale. Unless I got an incomplete copy? With chaos ensuing, and the town being blown up to shit and bodies lying around everywhere, Sheriff Atlas (Phillips) and the carnival seer Samara (Simone-Elise Gerard) are getting up from the ground, as the Jersey Devil rises behind them onto a car roof, ready to pounce! Our survivors turn, see it, and yell, “RUN!” – as if right in the midst of a heightened climax that is usually called the last act. Fuck that. Our characters split up, the Jersey Devil prepares to attack, and – that’s it. Its one of the most WTF endings Ive ever seen. Its like the copy I watched was edited and the last 5 minutes of the film were cut off. Talk about deflating the balloon. Its still worth a night’s viewing. The acting was over dramatic (which is better than “I cant scare you, so I’m gonna act silly and be a comedy like I’m not trying”), and the gore was its saving grace. Ill dry swallow and say, (dare I…) this one’s a pretty cool go.