Warning: Some Spoilers Included.
Produced by the master of gore Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel), Clown is a nightmarish fable from John Watts (The Fuzz) that tells the tale of a loving father named Kent (Andy Powers) who undergoes a drastic and terrifying transformation when the ambiguous clown suit he donnes for his son’s 10th birthday becomes irremovable! Before he knows it, Kent is consumed by an ancient demon that thrives on murdering then eating children! Incredibly problematic when he has a young son himself and unbeknown to him another child on the way! Now it’s up to wife Meg (Laura Allen) to save her husband before he is gone forever and succumbs to the blood-thirsty clown demon.
Roth came on board after viewing a fake fan-made trailer for the project that boldly used his name. He was impressed with what he saw and believed the production deserved a chance therefore decided to produce it himself. Inspired by classic horror The Fly, Roth liked the idea of a film about a sympathetic character that is consumed by evil.
Clown has the makings of a classic monster movie focusing on a decent character that has something extraordinary happen to him. Think American Werewolf in London or any Frankenstein movie and that is essentially the typical man becomes monster story Clown explores. Kent is faced with a conflict between the murder of innocents or self-sacrifice and as viewers we witness the harrowing stages of him turning.
While the genre is mainly dominated by vampire, zombie and werewolf movies, it’s quite refreshing to see a re-visit to the clown as a horror monster as there’s something quite unnerving and otherworldly about an entity that’s associated with fun and innocence but has something much darker brewing beneath the surface. Most famously Stephen King’s IT comes to mind when constructing the image of the horror movie clown. Even though clowns have been referred to and transformed into creatures of terror within many films and television series there is still a gap for it to be further explored in terms of its mythology which is what this film manages to do.
This movie is bound to terrify anyone who suffers with Coulrophobia however on the whole Clown falls more on the generic side than being anything exceptional; but that’s cool because it sets out what it intends to do. Its main taboo breaker is featuring the majority of the monster’s victims as children and doesn’t shy away from making things splatter-tastic! There are some goreirific visuals of blood splatter and other gross and more ominous bodily fluids. There are also some genuine moments of tension featured particularly the kids arcade/jungle jim sequence where a young boy searches the tunnels for his little brother unknowing what lurks within, from this point the film does
pick up the pace however the ending comes across as rather predictable. The typical themes of ‘how far will you go to get back the person you love’ are presented and selfishness vs. doing the right thing in both Kent and Meg.
Kent’s transformation is well-crafted; we see him in various states of pain and decay before he is completely consumed by the ancient clown demon beyond recognition. The pay-off is certainly well worth it with outstanding special effects. During the confrontation scene at the jungle jim between Kent and Meg there’s some highly stylish lighting that provides a visual treat.
The story does seem more suited to an episode of Supernatural (there was a slightly similar one done in the episode ‘Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie’ #7.14) as the characterisation doesn’t feel strong enough to carry a whole feature film but there is certainly potential there. The performances are decent but again there’s a sense of indifference toward the characters involved and their brutal predicament undermining any sort of empathy we’re meant to project toward them.
Clown on the whole is a pretty, average horror flick that plays it safe in its storytelling but does break the boundaries with its gory visuals and dark subject of child victims. Worth a watch and definitely recommended for those afraid of clowns as it’s bound to cause a few frights!
Clown receives its UK premiere at this year’s Frightfest Glasgow 2015 then it will be available from DVD & Blu-Ray on March 2nd.