Carnival of Souls

Carnival of Souls (1962)

I do NOT understand the popularity of this film, which is generally held up as a horror/suspense classic. The acting is passable at best (and a lot of it falls short of that mark), the dialogue ranges from pedestrian to downright tacky, the pacing is too slow and there’s a lot more camp than I think was intended.

Candace Hilligross does a decent job as the protagonist, but only in so convincingly portraying a emotionally stilted introvert that she managed to make me completely not care what happens to her. It gets good marks for its creepy score, but even that becomes trying at times. One could almost give it a pass for the twist ending, except that we’ve all seen the same twist dozens of times before. Yes, the movie is almost 50 years old, but we saw this same ending in “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” 70 years before that.

When all a movie has going for it is a twist at the end and it drags you along for over an hour to get to that twist – one that any remotely attentive viewer had to see coming five minutes into the film – it’s a recipe for a bad movie. If you want to see this done correctly, they used the same plot device in a handful of Twilight Zones and were a lot quicker in delivering the payoff. In fact, that’s a good standard for aspiring film makers to use: if they could do this same story in a 30 minute Twilight Zone episode, do I really think I can drag it out for an extra hour?  The people behind Carnival of Souls couldn’t.

Stars: 1/5

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