Best movies: Saw II (2005), Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008), Mother’s Day (2012)

Darren Lynn Bousman and Eduardo Sánchez share a unique career characteristic, one that’s somewhat backwards: They’ve both gone from directing huge mainstream successes to helming smaller, more personally realized projects. In Bousman’s case, his earlier smashes dominated the October box office from 2005 through 2007—Saw II, Saw III, and Saw IV. Once he stepped away from Jigsaw’s franchise, though, Bousman started churning out his most interesting work.

In 2008, he wrote and directed the Gothic horror extravaganza Repo! The Genetic Opera, inspiring legions of cult-like fans to stand up and cheer. Bringing the lavishness down several pegs, his latest indie films—the Satanic mood piece 11-11-11 and the savage remake of the 1980 camp favorite Mother’s Day (his best movie thus far)—have further displayed a director who’s unafraid to dabble in various horror subgenres.

Currently, Bousman is back in his Repo! zone with The Devil’s Carnival, a grandiose, music-driven short designed to evoke that old Rocky Horror Picture spirit. That desire for energetic audience participation has inspired Bousman to travel around the country and screen The Devil’s Carnival as an exclusive roadshow experience. Respect the technique.