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.
Nightmarish clowns are currently invading screens, both big and small, and audiences are revelling in it. It’s certainly part of the zeitgeist with Twisty in American Horror Story: Freak Show and the creepy costumes in the Halloween hair-raiser, The Houses October Built. We’ve even got True Detective helmer Cary Fukunaga’s impending two-part cinema reworking of Stephen King’s It which is set to start shooting this very Spring.
For now though, forget all that as there’s a new clown in town who I’m confident is about to steal all the limelight. The latest project to join the circus entertainer ranks is Clown which first emerged as a fake trailer produced by filmmakers Jon Watts and Christopher D. Ford as a bit of tomfoolery. They filled in a few gaps by crediting Eli Roth as the director and, much to their surprise and delight, he loved it and hopped on board to produce and gave Watts pretty much a free pass to direct the film in all its gory glory. Roth even apologised in advance to the MPAA for what the film was going to put them through to get an R rating…
Right from the very outset Watts’ teeth-cutting days as a music video and advertisement director certainly shine through. The whole story commences full of pep and never lets up for the film’s entirety. The superb casting choice of Andy Powers as the lead role of Kent also deserves a standing ovation. It was great to see a not-so-familiar face adroitly descend from a humble and fun-loving father figure into the most tenebrous place imaginable in such a short time frame. The swift metamorphosis from an amiable, vulnerable father into a full-on demonic monster is phenomenal, and that’s cutting it short.
Without giving away too many plot details, rather than just drop a creepy circus entertainer in the film for good measure, the scribes wisely add mythology into the mix which Peter Stormare’s particularly outlandish character shares with the audience. Giving the clown suit these ancient roots adds so much to the narrative and sets the foundations for a film with a much deeper-seated fear.
As for the gore, there’s plenty of that in store and Watts knows how to tantalise the audience and have us all envisaging much of the gruesomeness before it actually plays out. Some of the carnage we create in our heads doesn’t even actually occur in the end but that just means you get twice as much as you paid for at the ticket booth. As a side note, gore groupies will be pleased to hear that Roth instructed Watts to add more blood and guts than really necessary so as to give the censors something to cut. In the end not a single frame was removed so you’d better get ready for plenty of splatter.
With Clown the filmmakers have created an all-new monster of demonic proportions and it’s a concept that certainly deserves to spawn a sequel or two as the sky really is the limit. With so many clowns floating around at the moment I went in with low expectations but came out with nothing but praise for the film. This new devilish trouper is surely set to join the hall of famous horror icons alongside the likes of Jason, Freddy and, of course, Pennywise.
Clown will be screening at FrightFest Glasgow 2015 next month before its 2nd March DVD release date. Watts is also taking his latest project, Cop Car, starring Kevin Bacon, to this year’s Sundance Film Festival and that looks just as promising so this is definitely one director to have on your radar.
Words: Howard Gorman