Let’s talk about some key ingredients for a great horror story. Clowns? For sure. A writer? Hell yes, works for Stephen King in every other book. Isolation? Most definitely. A cast member from Dawson’s Creek (in this case, Dawson himself, James Van Der Beek)? Ye- oh wait. Abandon… The Skulls… Disturbing Behavior… Forsaken…. that one’s iffy.
So where does Final Draft fall on the spectrum? I’ll give you a hint: I’d rather watch Abandon.
Sweet asschristing hell, I don’t know how a movie can squander so many opportunities to at least be interesting, let alone good, but this one managed. It’s almost more impressive that they failed so miserably than it would be had they just made a good movie. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film that continuously set up so many promising ideas only to never follow through on them.
For example: the backstory involves Van Der Beek’s character laughing at a clown who accidentally burnt himself to death during a circus. He dreams about this clown one night, and decides to write a movie about the clown coming back to seek revenge on all the kids who laughed at him. Now, the movie can do three things: One, actually have the clown come back and get revenge on Van Der Beek; two, have the script somehow come to life as his friends begin mysteriously dying; or three, have Van Der Beek kill his friends himself in order to ‘research’ the story. Hell, they even sort of set one of these up, as one of his actor friends loses a movie role and then he’s “late” for a coffee date with Van Der Beek. Did he die? Did Van Der Beek kill him in a fit of unconscious rage? No, he just didn’t show up on time for no reason other than letting Van Der Beek try to hit on a waitress and show what a lousy friend he is (he tells the waitress his friend, who she is more interested in, is gay). Whatever.
No, instead, the movie is simply an endless montage of Van Der Beek hanging around his apartment, trying to write. He distracts himself with old videos, basketball, coffee, mousetraps, calendars… doesn’t this sound exciting? Then at one point, he begins to imagine his ex-friends and ex-wife are in the apartment with him, taunting him and distracting him further. At this point, he begins writing scenes in which the clown kills them. There’s no gore or anything interesting about these killings, but at least something is SORT OF happening. One gets the idea that the film is fairly autobiographical, that perhaps writer Darryn Lucio really was trying to write a movie about a murderous hobo clown, came down with a severe case of writer’s block, and wrote this instead; sort of like Adaptation crossed with The Shining, but that doesn’t excuse the film from being a colossal bore.
And a couple times during the film we see the final page of Van Der Beek’s script, which says FADE TO BLACK, THE END. Does this film fade to black? Nope. It cuts to it. It’s a meta-movie that can’t even stay meta.
I almost considered writing a meta-review, where I just wrote about how I was having trouble writing my Final Draft review, but I decided to be like the movie in a different way: by being lazy and not putting any goddamn effort into it at all.
Check out more of BC’s reviews at Horror Movie A Day!