A loving father finds a clown suit for his son’s birthday party, only to realize the suit is part of an evil curse that turns its wearer into a killer.
.Eli. Eli. Eli…
I find Eli Roth a strangely frustrating character. While his name has become synonymous with modern horror, and erroneously and perhaps unfairly with ‘torture porn’, he has a certain charisma and his philanthropic horror activities have aided projects such as Last Exorcism, and The Sacrament. Both films that I really enjoyed. So whilst Eli’s directing activities would appear to be taking a back seat, at least he is producing titles that otherwise may never get made. Given his previous successes in this, CLOWN is more than a little disappointing.
The premise is certainly original, if harking back to an old ghost story staple of a possessed item, in this case a clown suit. A clown cancels for a child’s birthday, his father who is in real estate and renovating an old house discovers an old clown suit in the attic. The next half an hour or so has a certain amount of humour as he discovers the suit, make up and nose ( an ‘ouch moment’) just won’t come off. Turns out the suit is actually the skin of an ancient demon and can only be removed by either decapitating the owner or the wearer/demon consuming 5 children. Seems an arbitrary number, but hey, it’s a mythology and I can go with it. So far so, “mmm sounds cool”.
The problem here is that killing off children in a movie is still a bit of a taboo, and very quickly any real sense of peril is lost with the treatment of the material. Simply put even though kids are put in peril, and do die, for the most part I just wasn’t that bothered. And that clearly affects the viewing. There are only really two scenes that show some of the promise that the conceit promised. Firstly in a scene that will affect anyone who’s climbed up, down, and around a indoor playground as a youngster looks for his missing sibling, and later on when the real estate agents wife is looking for a last child victim so she can get her husband back. Unfortunately whilst both scenes show promise, neither is given the time, or build up that it feels they deserve.
Director Jon Watt ultimately drops the ball on this production. While the film certainly isn’t terrible it is a film that asks the question, why did Eli Roth produce this? It feels like a concept that needed a few more rewrites… Maybe next time.
Another release branded with Eli Roth’s name as a producer and another film I feel somewhat let down by. John Watts co-writes and directs this straight to video release about a man possessed by a clown suit.
Chuck Shamata stars as a farther who’s son is let down by a party hire company, meaning he (in dire circumstances) ends up wearing and being possessed by a demonic clown suit. As a premise it sounds like a pretty good concept, I really wanted to like this but it just did nothing for me. I just sat in the screening willing this monstrosity to end. It just stumbled out of the gate and ended up painfully dragging through its 100 minute runtime, after an hour I seemed to be checking my watch every so often to see when it would all be over and I could leave. In fact the entire film feels like the setup for a much longer one.the content of Clown should of developed over about 30 minutes followed by a long and gory demon clown killing spree over the next hour. ( Demon Clown Killing Spree – new death metal band name).
To be fair to the film, as much as I disliked it, the makeup and prosthetics are stunning and the way the clown costume degraded becoming more and more like a lizard skin as the film progresses was a nice touch. The way the film was played straight instead of as a comedy was nice to see, but didn’t help the pacing. Even a handful of scenes with Peter Stormare, who practically eats up the screen in every shot he appears, was not enough to pull the film back from the brink.
There is also a huge elephant in the room. Unless you have a phobia of greasepaint and rubber noses, Clown isn’t scary. It isn’t even jumpy scary or THAT gory, that’s not to say there isn’t blood and guts, just not as much as you would expect from a film like this. Without having Roth on board as a producer and name above the title on the poster/case, most likely Clown would of never seen the light of day or would of ended up being picked out of a bargain bin for a pound a year or so after a quiet straight to video release.
Clown was an expected highlight of this year’s Glasgow Frightfest, I have to say I was more than disappointed with the film, yet while there are some things I did like, there really was a lot which let it down. I really need to keep my expectations in check or at least much lower.
The production values were great and the actual make up-design for the clown is very good as well. The cast were pretty good, Peter Stormare, Laura Allen and Andy Powers all delivered solid performances but they were let down by script which was one of the poorer aspects of the film, it really had some rather badly written dialogue giving it a real hammy feel as the actors delivered these quite clownish lines. Yet they managed to keep playing it completely straight and playing it straight while good in one aspect also may have hindered it a little, I’m not saying turn it into Stiches or ramp up the comedy, but a little more humour may have helped. Yet playing it straight tried to give the clown mythology it was trying to build a little more gravitas. This is one of the aspects I really liked, the history of the clown did make sense and worked pretty well, making the clown a more demonic presence was rather refreshing instead of them going down the possessed clown suit.
Yet this is a horror film, and what it really need was some horror, some tension instead of relying on a number of cheap jump scares and gore, a clown killing children is a scary prospect to most people, especially parents. Yet it was only one scene where they got this right, the children’s play warehouse, the clown stalking the kids in the tunnels of the climbing frame was great, but sadly this was the only moment the film which really created any fear or tension.
Do I lay the blame at Eli Roth’s feet, or the director Jon Watts, I’m not sure but the more I see Roth’s name attached to a film, the more I think maybe it’s not going to be that good.
Overall it had moments, a nice ideas and a good cast, but in the end it’s just something I doubt I’ll enjoy watching again, which is a pity because I was really looking forward to it.