Clowns. I hate clowns and I’m very honest about my disdain for them. I think my fear and/or hatred started at a young age when I decided it would be a good idea to watch KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE. Watching that film now makes me laugh because of how painfully ridiculous (yet awesome) it is, but at a young age, it was horrifying. When word spread a few years ago that Eli Roth was producing a film, aptly titled CLOWN, I had mixed feelings. I really like most things that Eli Roth is attached too, but then there is the whole clown issue. Why, why did it have to be clowns. Luckily, I had time to prepare myself as the film, first announced back in 2014, was going to have a few years before it would properly be released. When the time came to watch the film, which I did a few weeks ago, I was surprised. Yes, CLOWN is creepy and disturbing and uncomfortable, but director Jon Watts did an incredibly good job at weaving the story together with brilliant performance while simultaneously sending chills down my spine.
CLOWN centers around a family celebrating the birthday of their son Jack (Christian Distefano). When a clown doesn’t show up as scheduled, because you know clown’s overbook, Jack’s father, Kent (Andy Powers), finds an old clown suit at a house that he’s currently hoping to rent. Problem is, after the party, the clown suit won’t come off. Also, the makeup won’t come off. Not even the red nose will come off. Kent, horrified, begins to realize that this is no ordinary clown suit and seeks out any information he can. The terrifying truth comes to light when Kent meets with Karlsson (Peter Stormare) and finds out the true origins of the CLOWN suite.
As I mentioned before, this film is disturbing and uncomfortable. One of the reasons being is because of the transformation that Kent goes through in becoming the clown. As each day goes by, we see Kent deteriorate more and more while his body begins to go through inhuman changes. For examples, we see his fingers elongate and his feet become bigger and wider (shout out to the practical effects done to make this happen) along with his teeth falling out due to being replaced by razor sharp fangs. Then there is the insatiable hunger. In the beginning, Kent is hungry for what he thinks is regular food and when that doesn’t satisfy him, he turns to raw meat and blood. When that still doesn’t curb his appetite he then finally finds the one thing that will fulfill those hunger pains. This is a spoiler free review so I’ll leave it at that but that aspect is one of the most disturbing parts of the film. Director Jon Watts spares no expense when it comes to gore. Whether it’s the body-horror gore we see in the transformation of Kent or the death sequences due to the Clown’s appetite, there is plenty of gore to appease even those who are fans of the most hardcore blood and guts.
Something to note about this film, that is not always seen in a lot of horror movies, is how strong Laura Allen’s character, Meg, was. For someone who could have easily been left on the sidelines, Jon Watts made sure to have her at the focal point so the viewer could see how she was reacting to her husband’s terrifying changes. She becomes a big part of the movie and fights hard to do whatever she can to try and rescue her husband from whatever is consuming him. When the movie first starts you figure it will be solely about Kent and his story but half way through it switches and we get to view everything through the eyes of Meg. I liked that switch and it ended up making the film more complex and interesting. I feel like her character didn’t get enough praise especially when she does so much to try and save her family. She is not a damsel in distress but a wife and mother that is hell bent on conquering this evil.
In conclusion, CLOWN is a solid film. I’m not sure why it was held off from release for 2+ years. I’ve heard many stories and a lot of controversy that was surrounding the film, but I’ve never heard the real reason why. Regardless, I’m glad that it finally was able to see the light of day. CLOWN may be far from a perfect film but it’s enjoyable and creepy and that’s what’s fun about it. Did it heighten my anxiety about clowns, you betcha, but that’s what horror is supposed to do. It’s supposed to scare you and play off your fears, and that’s exactly what CLOWN did, so far that I commend Jon Watts and Eli Roth for making me never want to be around another clown again.
CLOWN is now available on Blu-ray and DVD as well as available to rent on iTunes