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Carnival of Souls

Film Review by Dean Duncan May 26, 2015

Here’s a pioneering American Independent film, with all sorts of things to recommend and distinguish it. One of those things is that it might look, to those accustomed to gloss and slick and unrealistically/unrepresentatively big budgets, a little amateurish. Far from hurting it, however, this seeming quality is actually the making of the film, not to mention the opening of a perceptual opportunity for audiences.

The thing is there are two films going on here. There’s the surface story, which is just a little bit awkward, if you want to look at it that way. But if you look closely, or from a different angle, it’s not so far from John Cassavetes, or the New Wave, or even the present revolution in democratized and expanded-access film production. A little awkward, but also very resourceful, stylish, and quite full of really, really effective sequences and effects. Carnival of Souls is pleasingly modernist and dreamlike and, in the end, unexplained. Terrific!

There’s that, then, and there’s the latent, maybe more important story. Look at this brave, very independent, very regionalized kind of production. It’s from somewhere, and shot somewhere, and reflective of real lives, both working and imaginative. It is an industrial film. Say it loud! The star, Candice Hilligloss is wonderfully attractive, in an actual person kind of way. Great use of the Saltair location, and of those celebrated watery zombie people. Director Herk Harvey is one of them. Ego? Doubt it. Doing whatever work that needed doing! Most admirable, and a very fine film as well.