I don’t think I’ll ever understand how clowns became a staple of children’s entertainment. Not from a fascination or obsession standpoint, that I totally get. We’re drawn to things that illicit fear, things that frighten us. That is something I 100% understand. That’s why many of us love horror movies – we like to be scared. Realistically we all know that clowns are still popular because they’re a great device to scare us, but we still pretend that they provide a happy form of entertainment to kids? Why? I don’t buy for one second that kids have ever been amused by clowns and if there are kids out there that have they’re most likely freaks. Freaks! Clowns are in the news right now and it’s not for making anyone laugh!
Jon Watts and Christopher D. Ford understood the evil nature of clown when they uploaded their fake trailer to YouTube in 2010 for Clown and listed Eli Roth as the man responsible for bringing the film to life. Roth had no involvement in this whatsoever, but as it turns out the video caught his attention and rather than be upset by these dudes using his name he decided to produce a feature length version of that fake trailer. Why did he want to produce it? Because Roth knows people are truly freaked out by clowns! Thus Clown, the feature film was born. Of course this is stuff you already knew, so let’s get jump into the actual film!
Kevin McCoy (Andy Powers) leads a good life. He’s a young successful realtor with a beautiful wife, Meg (Laura Allen), and a young, happy son, Jack (Christian Distefano). When Kevin receives word that the clown they hired for Jack’s birthday party – Jack is obsessed with clowns and the whole party is clown-themed – is unable to make it, he takes matters into his own hands. After rummaging around in the basement of a house he has on the market he finds an old clown costume. Perfect! Kevin puts on the costume, rushes home and saves the day. He’s a big hit at the party and success is achieved. Things go so well that Kevin ends up falling asleep in the costume.
The next morning when Kevin awakes he is unable to get the costume off. Figuring it’s no big deal and is just going to require some extra work, he takes Jack to school and heads to work. At work Kevin tries to remove the costume once more. The nose, the bodysuit, the wig, none of it will come off. Kevin even tries cutting the suit off but just ends up slicing his wrist pretty bad.
Unsure of what to do Kevin does some digging on the man the costume used to belong to and that leads him to Herbert Karlsson (Peter Stormare). Karlsson is the brother to the now deceased man who owned the suit. Over tea Karlsson explains the costume is actually the skin and hair of an ancient demon from Northern Europe that used to feast on small children. Because Kevin put on the suit he is now slowly turning into the demon. Or in other words, Kevin is boned.
Roth described Clown as The Fly but with a clown. That’s pretty accurate I think. Not that Clown is anywhere close to being the film The Fly is, but it’s sort of the same basic idea. The entire time we’re with Kevin as he’s slowly transforming into this demonized clown (aka just your standard clown) and there’s nothing he can do about it. He knows he’s changing, he can feel it, but there’s nothing he can do to stop it. He even tries committing suicide which ends in a disastrously hilarious fashion. Let some fruity pebbles sit in a bowl of milk for a while and then throw that milk on your wall. That’s what it looks like when a clown attempts to commit suicide via gun shot to the head.
Watts does a good job balancing the laughs and scares. There are a few moments that I found to be truly creepy, particularly the beginning of the film because well clowns. At the same time the entirety of the film is very funny in a darkly comic way. The stuff with Stormare is brilliant, but I think the funniest moment may just be the death of a small child. Does that make me terrible? That probably makes me terrible but this scene plays out in such a humorous way. The humor is all dark stuff like this with Watts shying away from camp.
In Mr. Disgusting’s review he stated that maybe the concept of Clown is better suited as a short film and I agree to a point. If we look at strictly what this feature-length film delivers then I’d say yeah, probably could have done this as a short, but there are some bigger ideas that could have been expanded on. I would have loved to see Kevin fully transform into the demon and just be unleashed. Where’s that movie?!
The Blu-ray from Starz/Anchor Bay is about what you’d expect with a Blu-ray of a newer film in terms of picture quality for the most part. There were a few scenes were things did look slightly off, however. As I’ve stated many times I’m no PQ expert, but the film looked darker in certain scenes than you would expect. This could have been a purposeful decision made in the filmmaking side of things, but it felt like there were moments that could have had some real pops of color that weren’t that bright. In terms of special features there’s just a making-of featurette but it’s only about six minutes or so of Roth discussing how the film came to be and the fake mythology of clowns they created. It’s interesting, but really short.
Clown never fully goes all the way, but it is a ton of fun and absolutely worth your time.
Clown is available now on Blu-ray from Starz/Anchor Bay.