Opening with what reminded me of Marge appearing at the start of some Treehouse of Horror episodes of The Simpsons to warn the audience of the content that will appear in the following episode, The Ringmaster is another film that hones in on the success of the Saw films but leaves a lot to be desired in terms of emulating their success.

During the night of the biggest sports final of the year, two girls working in a gas station experience strange incidents. Is it just staged pranks or is it something of a more aggressive intent?
Horror is a genre where you can probably get away with a lot more in terms of extreme content and this is something The Ringmaster has the intention of doing however, it never manages to fulfil the promising potential it starts off with. There's an impressive sense of dread surrounding the two women on their shift at a gas station, particularly when two perculiar men arrive acting rather strangely, but that soon dissolves into nothing much, even as the women are forced to take part in an online entertainment event that isn't as insane as it thinks it is.

We know what's going to happen with the women as the film follows a non-linear narrative that jumps between their shift and then captivity. While not much of an issue for me, there's no surprise to any of it, knowing they will eventually be captured takes away much of the suspense created during the gas station scenes.

The performances, particularly from Anne Bergfield and Karin Michelsen, are decent enough but there isn't really much weight to any of it due to the fact there's no real substance to any of it. Damon Younger plays the Ringmaster and he does bring a sinister sense to proceedings but it does end up falling a bit flat, sitting in the middle rather than tipping over to either side of the psycho scale.

Imagine The Greatest Showman but P. T. Barnum rides out on a tricycle asking his "freaks" if they "wanna play a game". You could imagine it being carnage and that's what I'd want from a horror film called The Ringmaster but what we got instead ends up being rather tame, which is most definitely a shame.

Verdict: ★★


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