Underground Film Journal

Posted In » Online Cinema

Short Film: Carny

By Mike Everleth ⋅ September 21, 2011

Enter the sideshow of wonder and amazement, of sorrow and tragedy in Kevin Lonano‘s dark and eerie short film Carny. At the Psycho-Fugue Circus, magician La Fumeur (Vincent K. Guagenti) needs a new act, but it’s one that may leave his longtime assistant, Angela Cloud (Holly Lynn Ellis), not very happy with her partner. And carny retribution can be a real bitch.

Carny is a new film by the prolific Robot Hand! crew and is the first production under their banner to be solo directed by Kevin Lonano, the younger brother of founder Brian Lonano. (The two previously co-directed the short Martian Precursor.)

Woman in lingerie being led away by a man wearing an animal mask

While there are some slightly similar feels to other Robot Hand! productions, especially the use of regular actors Ellis, Guagenti and Don Singalewitch as ringmaster Mr. Fugue, Kevin Lonano definitely has his own style, feel and pacing.

One of the things that makes Carny work so well is the shifts in tone that occur every few minutes in its 11-minute long runtime, so that the audience’s expectations of where the story is going constantly change. The film opens with a jaunty tribute to silent films, then turns overly sinister and nightmarish and follows with bits of lightheartedness, sadness and, ultimately, tragedy.

Ellis, who previously held the leading role in the classic Attackazoids!, shows off a whole different range of acting in Carny. The scenes in which she goes through emotional turmoil while sitting in front of her make-up mirror have a particularly good intensity to them, giving real depth to her character in just a few scenes and lends true believability to the extreme decision she ultimately makes.

Although coming out under the Robot Hand! banner, Carny is a striking dramatic debut solo short by Kevin Lonano on his own terms.