Carnival of Souls (1998)

Carnival of Souls (1998)

Eleven-year-old Alex witnesses her mother's murder at the hands of a kiddie-fiddling carnival clown named Louis. Her testimony puts him in jail for twenty years, but you can't keep a bad clown down and two decades later he shows up wanting revenge. Held hostage in her car by Louis, knowing that after he has dealt with her, he'll go after her younger sister, Alex floors the gas and drives herself and her captor at top speed into the sea. Then things get weird.

From this point on, director Adam Grossman mixes reality and fantasy, blurring the boundary between the two and confusing the audience in the process. Sequences snap from reality (or what we perceive to be reality) to fantasy in the blink of an eye, and vice versa. Alex has strange hallucinations; hideous demons pop up in the strangest of places, as does her old pal Louis.

These strange goings-on don't make a lot of sense, but they are quite entertaining, and at no point did I find myself regretting my decision to watch the film. Both Bobbie Phillips (who plays the grown-up Alex) and Shawnee Smith (who plays her sister) are easy on the eye and give reasonable performances. The demonic creatures that appear out of nowhere are very unsettling and the film is worth watching for these alone. If only Louis the carnival clown had been half as frightening as the demons; his blonde wig and crappy make-up are lame and as creepy movie clowns go, he is a disappointment.

Fans of the original have slated this film, describing it as a travesty. Although I wouldn't exactly recommend this version myself, those who haven't seen the original may find enough to like to warrant giving it a go.  (IMDB BA_Harrison)

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