Director: Jon Watts
Screenplay: Jon Watts
Starring: Andy Powers, Peter Stormare, Laura Allen, Elizabeth Whitmere, Christian Distefane, Chuck Shamata
Running Time: 95 mins
BBFC Classification: 18
Little Jack’s dad, Kent (Andy Powers), ends up filling in for a clown who doesn’t show up for his son’s 10th birthday party. He’s only able to do this because he finds an old clown suit and accessories in the loft of a property that he’s trying to sell as part of his job as local realtor. This pleases not only his son, but also his pregnant wife, Meg (Laura Allen). Knackered from all his clowning and a tiring day in general, Kent then falls asleep, still wearing the rather antique clown suit and its associated make-up. The following morning he’s unable to take the suit off, no matter how hard he tries (he manages to cut himself trying to remove it), and the face make-up doesn’t seem to want to disappear either. His wife does manage to remove the rubber nose though, but only after peeling off a load of his skin with it too. After a trip to the doctors he has to head off to work, wearing the clown suit under his normal attire.
Over the next couple of days Kent still can’t get the suit off and, worse still, he seems to be changing. He’s always hungry, but normal food does nothing to diminish his appetite, and his usually mild, laid-back personality is altering and he starts to worry for his own family’s safety. He visits the brother of the man who used to live in the property that contained the clown suit and it soon becomes apparent that the suit is demonic and is actually made from the scales of a demon, a demon who’s main diet was and still is children; a fact that horrifies poor Kent, just before the brother, Karlsson, tries to behead him, as according to him, that’s the only way to end the curse!
Produced by Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel), Clown is a typically gory and quite nasty story that very much has the producer’s blood-stained finger-prints all over it. And that’s not a criticism, for I really enjoyed Clown. Let’s face it, anyone who actually likes clowns and thinks they’re funny has got to be a bit weird (or under the age of 11), and this tale of the not so unexpected only adds to that theory. Apparently Roth saw a fake trailer for the movie and decided to produce the feature-length version himself.
The film rather reminded me of a horror film made by Charles Band in the late eighties or early nineties, only with significantly more gore. It has a rather cool backstory to the clown demon itself, which the character of Burt Karlsson (played well by Peter Stormare) explains to an incredulous Kent. The original ‘Cloyne’ apparently lived up in the mountains of its native Norway, and lured children to its cave where it would incapacitate and later eat them.
Clown has a very dark sense of humour (which appeals to me) and really cosies up close to the boundary of what is acceptable in regard to violence against kids. Kent’s transforming character tries desperately not to hurt any children to begin with, but following an unfortunate incident with a child’s finger, he is yanked rapidly over to the ‘dark side’ and his fate is pretty much sealed from there on in. In fact one of the film’s joys (?) is that it is so un-PC, and even when you think a child is going to be safe the script has a way of re-positioning them into terminal danger, which is blackly amusing!
The film is nicely shot, well acted and references other horror films now and then, probably as a bit of a sly nod to the hard-core (or should that be ‘hard-gore’) fans. For instance, there’s a face-melting scene very reminiscent of a similar scenario in the first Evil Dead film. I have to also say that the make-up effects were exemplary, especially the way they worked with the clown wig and the actor’s hair, weaving the two together – simple, but very effective.
In summary, Clown is a treat for ‘gore-hounds’ and fans of more extreme modern horror, and I, for one, look forward to any sequels that might be in the offing.
Clown has recently been released on DVD and Blu-ray is being distributed by Studiocanal. Alas there were no special features on the disc.