Where did I first hear about Clown?
Okay, so it was a while ago, but I believe I started hearing buzz about Clown on bloody-disgusting.com. For people who are disturbed by a website with that name and have no clue what I am talking about, it is a horror website that often posts news about upcoming horror movies, video games, comics, etc. The buzz stopped for a while, considering there was not yet a full movie, but recently bloody-disgusting started posting clips from the movie and it sparked my interest for the second time.
Clown is a horror movie from 2014 directed by Jon Watts, and produced by none other than the modern king of horror, Eli Roth. Aside from producing the film, Roth also stars as Frowny the Clown. At first I was very confused as to who was responsible for the film considering I heard a few opposing things about it; so I decided to do a bit of online research. The original trailer that was released in 2010 by Jon Watts and Christopher D. Ford was fake and was advertised as being from “master of horror Eli Roth.” Funny thing though: Eli Roth had nothing to do with the original (fake) movie trailer. Watts and Ford put his name on the trailer to get as much attention as possible, and it worked. Eli Roth wound up seeing the trailer and loving the project, so he was on board with the movie. The poster I posted above is from Italy and it is a more tame version of the original banned movie poster. It was banned for being a bit too grotesque. The original one was simply the entire photo of the clown rather than only a portion of it formed into letters like the one above. I decided not to post the original poster because I do not want want to disturb any squeamish
The movie starts with Kent (Andy Powers) and a secretly pregnant wife, Meg (Laura Allen) talking to each other on the phone, flustered about finding a last minute clown for their son Jack’s (Christian Distefano) seventh birthday party after the one they originally booked did not wind up showing up. Kent is a realtor who magically, and quite conveniently, found a clown suit and wig kept in a pretty suspicious looking chest (if I do say so myself) in the attic of a house he was trying to sell. The chest was chained to the wall, so if you had no idea what you were getting yourself into, that was the first sign that something is going to go wrong with wearing the clown costume. Kent shows up to his kid’s birthday party just in time to act as, who he calls, Dummo the Clown. The party goes great, Jack is a happy little birthday boy, Meg and Kent are relieved after the minor clown crisis, but then, surprise surprise, Kent can’t get the clown suit off. I’m just going to pause right here to talk about how although this movie is totally fun, it is not all that original whatsoever, and it is pretty predictable. You do have to take into consideration, that coming up with a new and clever horror storyline is pretty tough, because not only is our society desensitized to a lot of gore and graphic images, but also, it has all kind of been done before. Just think about how many zombie movies, vampire movies, supernatural/ghost movies, exorcism/satanic movies (oh goodness please make them stop), found footage films (ugh (even though I still go see them)), and even clown movies, there are out there. And how often do we walk out of the theater (if it even makes it to the theater), saying “That was totally awesome, super scary, and most of all, completely original!!”? I’ll answer this question for you: painfully not often. There are a small amount of good horror films in this world that make us squirm and are well thought out with a solid plot, so when a genuinely decent one comes out, the filmmakers milk it as much they can with sequels; Paranmormal Activity and Insidious, I’m talking about you. Or filmmakers resort to movies that just exist to shock; The Human Centipede, I’m talking about you. Not all can shake the public like The Exorcist and The Blair Witch Project. My point is, this film is not exactly revolutionary or unique, but it is enjoyable to watch in the most predictable of ways.
When Kent first realizes he cannot get the costume off, for some reason he decides that this is not a real problem, and goes to work anyway. He goes to one of the houses he is trying to sell, and there are people working on renovations at the house as well…who happen to have power tools. He starts becoming frustrated at work with the fact that the costume is stuck on him, so he tries to do the least reasonable thing possible: he tries to cut off the clown suit with power tools. He winds up accidentally slicing open his wrist and the material of the costume is so strong that it broke a power saw. Later, Meg questions why Kent still has his costume on and why on earth he wore it to work. When Kent pleas for help to his wife, the quick solution involves ripping off his clown nose with dental instruments from her job, which obviously turns out to be a bloody mess. It becomes more than clear to the audience and to the characters that this demon clown suit is not coming off any time soon…or at all.
As time goes on, Kent realizes that there is something really wrong with why he cannot get the costume off, and it’s not that he gained a ton of weight in a mere day or something. He conveniently winds up finding the original owner of the costume who tells him that the costume is actually the skin of an ancient European demon who eats children, of course. The only ways to rid the demon are to either feed it five children for the five months of winter, or to behead it. Karlsson (Peter Stormare), the original owner, had the same awful experience that Kent is having, so he will do virtually anything to end the curse. As Kent becomes hungrier and hungrier for the delicious flesh of children, the film becomes creepier and creepier, showing the mental and physical destruction of him.
The incorporation of the birthday party at the Chuck E. Cheese’s-esque place was a setting that was not only perfect for a potential child buffet, but gave the film an unsettling and frightening vibe. I enjoy how this setting transformed something completely un-scary into something nightmares are made of. Without giving too much away, I will never look at the McDonald’s play tunnels the same way again. Some of Kent’s, or should I say Frowny the Clown’s, child luring tactics (also used on his own son) are reminiscent of The Exorcist and Evil Dead. Playful and persuasive voices enunciated from demons is something I have seen (or heard) before in horror films, which I enjoy every time. Although it also has other typical horror movie maneuvers, the film comes together quite nicely, never boring the audience. One of my frequent complaints about horror films, including this one, is the lack of character development. It’s not that I did not like the characters, but I also didn’t not like the characters, which is almost worse because that shows that none of their personalities really left a true impact on the movie’s storyline. Clown‘s ending is not much of a surprise, making it less satisfying once the credits start rolling. Overall Clown is a fun movie if you don’t expect a groundbreaking plot that will make you think for days; however, it might make you shudder for days.
Is Clown worth a watch?
If you’re interested in the horror genre as a whole, and appreciate the work of Eli Roth, this movie may be for you!! This movie may not be for you if you suffer from Coulrophobia though.
You can watch the trailer here: