Well...here I am...my 200th post!
(cue the fanfare!)
What’s more terrifying than clowns? I can fully admit that, to this day, anyone dressed like a clown will creep me out. Actually, I can’t see why any child would find the notion of an individual with a painted face entertaining. From fictional accounts like Pennywise the Clown in Stephen King’s adaptation, It, to the real life documentary of Pogo the Clown (otherwise known as John Wayne Gacy), it’s the makings of a living nightmare…an unnerving part of culture that lives on mysteriously. Starting in the UK not too long ago, a clown was seen often, standing on the side of a road and holding balloons in the dead of night or wee hours of the morning. Lately, that disturbing trend has made its way to the USA, with multiple clowns mysteriously showing up in odd places and at weird hours during nightfall.
On the flipside to that, and as an avid prankster, I’ve got to admit that I would probably do something like that if I had the time, means, and dexterity to do so. More than likely, the one thing that’d stop me from performing a prank like that, however, is the fact that somebody just might open fire on me…especially in the part of California where I live.
The point of all this is that clowns are scary and strange, making them the perfect subject matter to include into any horror movie. But you can’t just have a story where someone dresses up like a clown and goes on a slasher rampage, can you? Well…that’d actually be a movie I’d watch. Though, here, we have an interesting concept and it’s one I’d gravitated towards, especially after watching the trailer for this flick a year or two ago.
For the sake of Cinema Bits formality, let me go over the synopsis of Clown…
A loving father, Kent (Andy Powers), finds a clown suit to wear and entertain at the birthday party for his son, Jack (Christian Distefano), only to realize that it’s not a suit at all.
In a peculiar sense, this film reminded me of Santa Clause with Tim Allen going through some of the same things you see the main character of Clown go through here in the beginning. Just as Tim Allen gains attributes of Santa Claus that becomes a part of him in that film, the main character here acquires traits of a clown—colorful wig, makeup, and suit that all becomes connected to him.
So, as we get into Clown, it doesn’t wait to give us the main crux of the story, how a man finds a clown suit and decides to wear it to his son’s birthday party after the clown that was scheduled to appear can’t make it. Right away I felt that the story was pushing it, not giving us any character build-up and making it very easy to start the plot. It was just a bit too convenient that the father is a real estate agent who’s cleaning up a house that’s ready to sell and just as he gets a call from his wife about how the scheduled clown had to cancel their son’s birthday party, he finds a clown suit in the closet of this house he’s getting ready to sell? A tad opportune, isn’t it?
All that aside, I’ve got to ask, are there really any kids out there who’d want t a clown to entertain their birthday party? There’s even a passing statement by the sister of the boy’s mother, asking the same question, saying that clowns are creepy.
With the handiness of the beginning plot point forgotten, and as the movie moves along, I’ve got to say that this story is interesting and had me seated until the end. The trailer gives it away that this suit started to bond with Kent, leaving him unable to remove it and changing him to an evil individual. I just won’t give away why that is and what needs to be done.
Enter the character of Karlsson (Peter Stormare) and his inclusion to the story, making the film even more attention-grabbing. He’s the exposition of the film’s backstory, much like Dr. Loomis in Halloween, as he explains why the events in this film are happening to Kent and how it can be stopped. Stormare’s part is a bit small—showing up at the second act of the film for a little bit, then disappearing until the third act. But what little he adds definitely helps this movie.
Andy Powers as Kent wasn’t played out too well, making him a weak link of the story at first. It seemed a little ridiculous, primarily, how he didn’t even try to take off the clown suit and it left me sitting there in disbelief. I’ve worn that type of makeup for Halloween and, embarrassingly enough, one time at a job where I was working as a waiter for a hotel and a company had a banquet where the theme was science fiction, having all of our faces painted to look like aliens…I try to forget that ordeal, but I can’t. The point is, the moment Halloween was over—or when I’d gotten home from work that day—I went straight to the bathroom to wash that crap off of my face. It’s just hard to believe, here, that this character leaves the clown getup on—even the red nose—and falls asleep on the couch. With this aspect of Clown, you’re going to have to suspend disbelief. However, once the evil clown persona takes over, little by little, the film attains the horror phase and takes the film out of the fun zone and more into the gross out stage.
The film certainly isn’t afraid to delve into the taboo facets that most other horror flicks stay away from—namely, killing kids. At that point of the film, it’s difficult to see Kent as having his original protagonist character retainable as he goes to certain antagonist reaches in the story where there’s no turning back. But it’s understandable to a point because of what has taken over his body and you still wait to see if there’s salvation for him by the movie’s end. Although there are no big twists to the story, the ending will have you satisfied, though there was something else alluded to from the beginning and I think the writers missed the mark on that. Perhaps they will entertain that concept in a sequel…?
I haven’t said much about the character of Meg (Laura Allen), Kent’s wife and mother of Jack, because she really doesn’t do much here. She plays the worried wife at home as Kent leaves and goes into hiding during most of the film, but earns her pay here by really showing us how to end a film with a bang.
Although Eli Roth’s name is seen on the poster for the film, he’s only one of the producers, with John Watts as the director. That tidbit of information is interesting because Watts is currently at work with Marvel’s next big budget superhero film to be released in 2017, Spider-Man: Homecoming. Seeing as how Clown—although interesting and a bit scary at times—is just a paint-by-the-numbers horror movie, it makes me worried that he’s going to helm the next MCU film which features my favorite comic book superhero. I saw nothing in this film that made me stand up and shout, seeing that Marvel has made the right choice in hiring him for their undeniable tent-pole film of 2017. But his writing credit (along with Christopher Ford) is something for all to take notice.
So what’s my final “bit” on Clown?
The concept here is awesome, but I think there was some trouble getting it to work on film. It could’ve been the editing because the beginning seems a bit clunky and maybe some scenes were missing as the story is kind of thrown at you from the word go. However, as the plot moves along, the vibe becomes creepy and as the backstory to the suit is explained, the story becomes more ghastly and entertaining. Without giving this much away, I like where they went with the story, wishing they could’ve explained something that had to do with Stormare’s character and his involvement with the evil clown getup. The performance of Andy Powers is the weak link of this film—he seemed a bit goofy and aloof during the commencement, but improved once his character was taken over by the suit. I wouldn’t give this film an ambitious endorsement, nor do I see myself purchasing this film on Blu-Ray, but I recommend seeing it at least once and enjoying it for what it is…which is a good-creepy-clown-time.
Thanks for reading!