There are certain recurring themes in horror that will never go away. Some aren’t very entertaining and I can personally do without, while some just make sense. Coulrophobia, or the fear of clowns, is a very real thing and what better way to scare someone than to produce an entire feature film based on this fear. That is exactly what first-time feature director Jon Watts and writer, Christopher Ford, have managed to create with their collaborative effort, Clown.
It is Jack’s (Christian Distefano) birthday and somehow the party agency has screwed up, meaning the clown that Kent (Andy Powers) and Meg (Laura Allen) have booked for the party is no longer available. That doesn’t stop loving father, Kent, from throwing on a suit, wig, and makeup himself to make sure Jack has the best birthday ever. Things quickly become rather frightening, however, when Kent realizes the suit doesn’t come off as easily as it slipped on. It seems as though the suit has become permanently attached to Kent and is rapidly transforming him into a very strong, very hungry demon.
There have been plenty of ‘scary clown’ films in the horror genre over the years. With greats such as Killer Clowns from Outer Space and It, among a myriad of other low-budget clown-containing films, there has never been one quite like Clown. While still comical, this Eli Roth-produced feature dives into the darker side of clowns, even including a back-story mythology created by the film’s writers and production designers. Akin to the mythos of the leprechaun in the 2014’s Leprechaun: Origins, this helps bring a new element to the forefront; Instead of just having another ‘killer clown on the loose’ story, audiences are treated to something with deeper roots and a supernatural factor.
In addition to the dark history of the ancient ‘Cloyne,’ the creature design for the antagonist in this film is hands down the most terrifying version of a clown I’ve ever seen on screen. The steady transformation from Kent’s cheerful birthday party costume to a deformed demon merely resembling a clown is frightening and delightful all at once. The final iteration of the demon we see at the end of the film is beautifully creepy thanks to the amazing job done by the practical effects team working on the film. In fact, every gory detail created with both practical and digital effects throughout the film are beyond impressive.
Jon Watts’ Clown features a very talented cast, led by a breakout performance from Andy Powers, as Kent. Powers is joined by another fresh face (at least to me) in Laura Allen as Meg, and veteran actor Peter Stormare. The addition of Stormare is a welcome one, adding another level of legitimacy to these low-budget independent project. The entire cast does a wonderful job, but Andy Powers’ portrayal of Kent is second to none. His metamorphosis from loving father to snarling monster was a pleasure to watch throughout the film’s entire 100 minute runtime.
When Clown first started reaching audiences, there was an uproar at the amount of violence towards children that the film offered. This, for some reason, had ‘crossed the line’ in some people’s minds, deeming the film unwatchable. Really? Violence to children is off-limits in horror? This argument has no validity in my mind. Nope. As soon as A Serbian Film was able to showcase much more disgusting acts towards babies and young children and still be hailed as ‘a work of art,’ opinions like this became null and void… forever. I respect the opinion of everyone, especially horror fans whose views on subjects range from one end of the proverbial spectrum to the other, but sometimes even I have to admit that people are just being ridiculous.
While the film’s US Blu-ray release doesn’t feature very much content in the way of special features, it does have a very nice [short] making-of featurette. I would have loved the inclusion of the original mock trailer this feature was based on, but at this point, I am just happy the film has seen distribution of any kind, here in the states. If you’re a fan of killer clowns and/or claim to support independent horror, this is one film you most definitely need to pick up and add to your collection. Pick up a copy on DVD or Blu-ray, available now from Dimension Films and Anchor Bay Entertainment.
I have watched Clown twice now and I enjoy it immensely. I highly recommend it and give it a final rating of 4 flying saw blade shards out of 5.