Alleluia! The Devil’s Carnival (2016)

Alleluia-The-Devils-CarnivalI assume somewhere down the line we had to fill in the holes and explore how the battle between heaven and hell ensued. I’m just not sure we had to spend the majority of the sequel doing so. “Allelulia!” is mostly a misfire of a sequel to the raucous and wonderful “The Devil’s Carnival” that fills in the questions from the first film. In the duration of the follow-up, we get to discover how the war began, how the battle became personal for hell’s minions and heaven’s warriors, and there’s even the origin of one of the Devil’s Carnival’s most infamous minions who we see a great deal of in the original film.

I don’t mind watching how these minions and warriors became the characters we know them as now, but I wish the writers had a more interesting origin and series of conflicts in mind to build in to a compelling crescendo. By now it’s been accepted that “The Devil’s Carnival” movies are a series of horror musicals folding in to one another, and I’ve been anxiously awaiting the second chapter for a while now. Sadly, “Alleluia!” doesn’t do much to progress the narrative and chooses to oddly go backward and continue forward. The first film was admittedly a bit gimmicky and a touch of the anthological where we meet a trio of characters we learn might go to hell if they resist hell’s minions and temptations.

It’s almost like the second film really doesn’t know how to top such a fascinating narrative and series of high energy moments and approaches the follow up with a much more low key effort. Plus there’s the consistent implication that we’re due for a war between heaven and hell, but with the low budget on these films I’m curious how they’re going to pull that one off where it’s satisfying and not anti-climactic. Even for a horror musical merely having hell and heaven engaging in a sing off would be very silly. In either case, “Allelulia!” is more centered on heaven and how it works from the inside, producing heaven’s warriors like a conglomerate corporation, encouraging conformity and order, and greeting a lot of its hopefuls with up beat songs.

We meet the rebellious June and the more eager and reserved Cora, both of whom are absolutely beautiful young women eager to please and trying to form their own paths in heaven. June inevitably begins forming an attraction to heaven’s loyal Agent (Adam Pascal), leading both on a path that could disrupt heaven’s battle with hell. Lynn Bousman’s follow up is still a solid musical with some great choreography and the usual fantastic make up effects, it just follows up the bang of “The Devil’s Carnival” with a narrative that probably should have been reserved as a B story for the sequel rather than becoming the central premise. I hope Darren Lynn Bousman and co. deliver a fine third installment, as the series of cult musicals really have offered a unique and whimsical take on the battle of good and evil.