Welcome back to the second series of my (admittedly pretty sporadic) regular feature, It Came From Netflix! This week is a bit of a treat, for our first edition back. For the purpose of this review, I used the Amazon Instant Video service to pick a film for a change. So, let’s stop waiting around. Onto the review!
Director: John Watts
Writer: Christopher D. Ford
Starring: Andy Powers, Peter Stormare, Laura Allen
When 10 year old Jack’s birthday party comes to a screeching halt due to the cancellation of a Clown performance, his father, real estate agent Kent decides to step in after the discovery of an old, tattered clown costume in one of the houses he’s selling. However, after he wows the kids at his sons party, the suit refuses to come off, and Kent learns that soon, birthday cake won’t be the only food he’s craving.
So, I’m sure most of you just read that premise and allowed your eyes to roll back so far they fell out of your head and rolled off to find a more original plotline. However, while I must admit the story here is nothing to write home about, it’s captured with a sense of dread and unadulterated fun that I’ve never really seen a competent killer clown flick realise. It’s dark, sure, but it’s perfectly aware it’s hero’s predicament is pretty ridiculous. I hasten to use the phrase, but the film really embodies the spirit of an effective ‘black comedy’. It’s a phrase/label that gets thrown around to describe anything with a bit of blood and mean spirited humour, but here it’s the most effective description. If I could give you another example of this working in the same way, Sam Raimi’s Drag Me To Hell. Don’t get me wrong, this is no horror comedy, and some viewers may well find the subject matter disturbing, but I know that for every time I felt uneasy, there was some small detail or sight gag to make me chuckle.
Speaking of sight, the visual effects on display here are fantastic. From the stomach turning gore to the make up shown on the titular monster’s face, everything is given the right amount of detail. I don’t know if I’m just getting more squeamish as I get older, but something about certain set pieces in Clown managed to bother me much more than other movies I’ve seen in the splatter department. Wrists are slashed, children are devoured and body parts fly, all in such a carefree fashion that it’s hard to take it seriously (until it comes to the several bone crunching scenes, which made me make some weird noises). Nevertheless, the gore here is top notch, but I wouldn’t expect any less from gorehound producer Eli Roth. I’ll admit, I was expecting a movie that not only carried the Straight To DVD tag, but looked like it too. What a surprise it was to see a well shot, good looking piece of work. The soundtrack I can take or leave, but to be honest I can’t really remember it enough to comment, so it can’t have exactly been very memorable.
The film paces itself well, holding back from descending into full scale clown killathon until it’s very last moments, and the film trundles along at a fair clip to keep the viewers invested. Scares here aren’t intense, and if the film lacks anything it’s a particularly trailer-worthy moment, with most horror elements aside from gore being dealt with with little fanfare. Another complaint is that whilst it’s obviously important to emphasise why Kent’s unable to remove the clown suit at the beginning of the movie, the reasons that are derived are just a bit… well, dumb. But honestly, I’m nitpicking. It’s worth mentioning also that the performances here are particuarly strong, especially for a film with so many child actors on show. Everyone puts in a solid showing, with main star Andy Powers putting in the best monster transformation character performance I’ve seen in a long time.
At the end of the day, Clown is a film I would heartily recommend to anybody looking for a bit of grit and fun. Is it anything incredible? No, of course not. But what you get with Clown is something I’ve been searching for for a good while now. It’s over the top, far fetched and that’s why I loved it. Will I watch it again? Maybe, maybe not. But one thing is for sure, it’s one of the best films I’ve had the pleasure of viewing over the course of this series. Step aside Pennywise, there’s a new Clown in town.