Monday, May 22, 2017

Don't Watch This Alone!: CLOWN

Welcome to the another installment of DON'T WATCH THIS ALONE!, where we review the best, worst, and everything in between in the world of horror.  This week we review the Eli Roth film...CLOWN.

You see, me, I’m not afraid of clowns, I'm afraid of balloons. Not the Mylar ones, but the old fashion rubbery ones. Those things really, really scare me! No one knows why they scare me to the point of it being a phobia. However, lots of people know why they are afraid of clowns. It ranges from anything about them like the sometimes creepy and exaggerated face paint, to the frenetic behavior commonly associated with clowns. All that jumping around and making loud noises really can translate into a vision of scariness. Maybe they've seen the movie IT.  Another reason to be scared of clowns, is the little mentioned fact that they are often associate with demon lore and demonic forms of possession. It's this lore that is the basic premise for the movie Clown.

Clown starts out pretty slowly with none of ‘precursor scenes’ found in most horror movies where you see a mysterious someone committing a horrific crime to set the ball rolling. Nope, it’s just a mundane opening with a children’s birthday party in progress; though a houseful of screaming children running around can be very scary! The birthday party is for a little boy named Jack (Christian Distefano) who loves clowns so much that his whole birthday party is clown themed.  When Jack’s mom, Meg (Laura Allen) gets a call from a party clown booking agency that they will not be able to send one over to the party, she calls her husband Kent (Andy Powers) to relay the bad news.

Kent is a real estate agent who loves his family and hates that his son is going to be disappointed. The empty house he is getting ready for sale has a room full of costumes.  When Kent finds a clown costume in an old trunk he puts it on and turn himself into a clown to save the day.  He is a hit at the party, but the next day, Kent finds that he cannot remove a single item of the costume, from the colorful wig to the actual suit itself.  The semi-comic scenes of his attempts to remove it and people’s reactions around him slowly devolve into desperation as Kent realizes something bad is happening to him the longer the clown costume stays on.

In his search for a way to get the costume off, Kent tracks down a man who may hold the answers. This leads him to costume maker Herbert Karlsson (Peter Stormare) whose deceased brother owned the house where Kent found the clown get-up. Herbert immediately warns Kent over the phone “whatever you do, DON’T touch the clown costume”. Of course, Kent already has and explains that he is wearing it.  From Herbert, Kent learns that it’s not a costume he is wearing, but rather the skin of an ancient child eating demon known as a Cloyne who is slowly possessing him. There is no way out of the suit except his own death or the death of five children who must be consumed.

As I said, Clown builds slowly, but once it gets going and the suit begins to change Kent as he is possessed, things start to get scary and horrific. The Irish legend of the Cloyne is used as a very effective plot device to create this movie, since its intended victims are the most helpless of all; little children. Clown is produced by Eli Roth, written by Jon Watts & Christopher Ford, with Watts also taking on directing duties. Watts and Ford make good use of this story device by taking an average loving family man and turning him into the allegory of many serial killers who prey on children by using clowns as a way to entrap them.

Clown also asks the question of how far will a loving wife go to save the man she married before she realizes there is nothing left to save inside the creature he has become.

Because this is an Eli Roth production, there is a good deal of blood and body parts, yet all the killings of the children are done off screen. Which, in my opinion, works both for and against Clown. Considering how easily this could have been just another slasher movie, Clown instead takes time to concentrate on developing its central characters in such a way that is not usually expected in these films, as well as exploring the origin of the clown/demon and how it pertains back to the film's story. Andy Kent, whom I had never heard of before, does a stunning turn as a lovable family guy who slowly becomes the most horrible type of ‘monster’ you can image; a child killer.

The visual and special makeup effects in Clown are outstanding as they move from making it just a costume to actual skin as the demon takes over Kent. If you like your clowns on the killer side in horror movies, then Clown is definitely one to put on your list.

Marla’s Score: 7/10

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