By Merle Bertrand | October 29, 2001

There’s always been something sort of seedy and depressing about the carnival, at least as we get older and the magic of the colorful lights wears off. Katy (Jamie Lauren), a pretty “townie,” gets an opportunity to examine that grim underbelly up close from her new job working a concession booth on the edge of the midway. When she first meets Joshua (Frank Vargas), the son of a lifelong carny, she thinks he’s a nice enough guy. Her boss (Fred Ellis) even tells her as much. Yet, she begins to have second thoughts when she meets Josh’s father, Dan (John Philbin). A sleazy ne’er do well, he slept with a pretty townie like herself and got the woman pregnant with Josh. Though Dan married Josh’s mom and eventually made her part of a “Snake Woman” scam he was running, the fact that she ran away, never to be heard from again, scares Katy. Even though she likes Joshua, she’s terrified at the prospect of history repeating itself with her in an unwitting starring role.
Lauren is excellent as the conflicted Katie, while Philbin’s sleaziness as the trailer park trash dad is enough to scare anyone away. Director Susy Foreman tells a simple and straightforward tale here, although she does so with an accomplished sense of style. Consisting of a nice mixture of flashbacks interspersed throughout an otherwise conventional, if somewhat predictable narrative, “The Edge of the Midway” looks behind the bright lights and happy music of the carnival and what it sees is not always pretty.

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