CLOWN

PrintE-mail Written by Dominic Cuthbert

DVD REVIEW: CLOWN / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: JON WATTS / SCREENPLAY: JON WATTS, CHRISTOPHER D. FORD / STARRING: ANDY POWERS, ELI ROTH, PETER STORMARE, LAURA ALLEN, CHRISTIAN DISTEFANO / RELEASE DATE: MARCH 2ND

Writer Christopher D. Ford and director Jon Watts put together a fake Grindhouse-style trailer, claiming it a work from ‘master of horror’ Eli Roth. Where this might have rubbed a more egomaniacal filmmaker up the wrong way, it left Eli impressed enough to produce a feature length. The end result attempts to answer once and for all just why people are scared of clowns. Using some wonky Nordic mythology, the film proposes that the clown was originally a bogeyman-like demon that lived in the mountains and gobbled up children.

Ford has penned a simple set-up which sees doting father and real estate agent Kent (Powers) try and improvise a clown suit after the entertainer planned for his son’s birthday party gets double booked. Coincidentally, he discovers an ominous chest in the property he’s currently representing, and inside a grubby clown suit. But after the party’s over, he isn’t able to get the suit off, and so begins a gradual transformation into a demonic, child-hungry monster. Peter Stormare plays a Van Helsing-like character who’s inhabited the clown suit before, and only he knows how to help Kent.

Like a nightmarish take on Fellini’s The Clowns, the film touches on the clown as a cultural icon, but goes one step further in exploring its prevalence as a horror trope. While this was only a fleeting dissection, it’s perhaps the finest clown horror this side of It, and while that’s not much of an accolade, it manages to take one of the most worn-out phobias and make it interesting and thoroughly enjoyable.

Watts shoots the film wonderfully straight-faced, but it’s not without a twisted sense of humour, which is a tall order given the on-screen decapitation of four kids. Nevertheless, there’s an almost Marx brothers physicality to Powers’ performance, which never loses sight of the fact that clowns are ultimately funny. Once in full demon mode, Eli Roth himself takes over as Frowny the Clown (he just can’t help himself), a creation somewhere between Psychoville’s Mr Jelly and Pumpkinhead.

Clown may be formulaic and filled up to the guts with familiar tropes, but it is tremendous fun and an effective body horror. It owes a tremendous debt to Cronenberg’s The Fly, no least with the plotting and pace, but with great make-up and gore effects, a strong central performance and quality direction from Watts, Clown is definitely one worth watching.

Special Features: None
 

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