Movie Review: CLOWNTOWN (2016)

Hello again, my ghosts and ghouls!

This past week, I was able to screen a film that I’ve had infinite excitement about.  As most of you know, I have certain sub-genres of the horror genre that I absolutely adore (and am often incredibly biased about)…dolls and clowns.

There is something so creepy about a doll who’s eyes watch you while you’re asleep, or a clown that’s supposed to be the epitome of laughter and happiness that just happens to be a murderous killer…I love it.  I love all of it.  So much.  What’s wrong with me?  We’ll never know.

ANYWAY! I was given the magical opportunity to screen the film CLOWNTOWN, directed by Tom Nagel and written by Jeff Miller.

CLOWNTOWN tells the story of a group of friends on their way to a concert (that they really, REALLY don’t want to be late to – they tell you about 300 times) when they realize that their friend left her phone behind.  Luckily, from the car, they call her phone and (no big deal), a sketchy man picks up and asks them to meet him to obtain her phone.  Like any normal group of friends in a horror film, they go.  Of course.

Darkness falls and the friends are still waiting on this man to bring the phone to them…but something seems off…this town’s deserted.  Wait a second…is that…a clown?


For those of you with coulrophobia, this film will absolutely disturb you, and you will probably never be able to set foot inside a circus again.  These clowns aren’t your average creepy, run-of-the-mill laughing clowns; they’re totally psychotic and hell-bent on killing everyone in their path.  Even the townspeople (that are left, anyway) know not to leave the house after dark for fear of being beaten to death by cracked-out clowns in greasepaint.

I just want to talk about the makeup on these clowns for a second, because as a makeup artist I was thoroughly impressed with the job that was done on these clowns.  It wasn’t the typical “white paint, red nose, painted-on mouth” – I was actually most impressed by the “Crowbar Clown” (Ryan Pilz) who sported a swirling nose design, awesome, Twisty-the-Clown-esque eye makeup, and a heavily defined widow’s peak, making him the most human, but also most intriguing clown design to look at.

With that being said, the film does get a little monotonous.  Maybe it’s just me (I’ve noticed I’ve been VERY picky as of late with critiquing horror), but it felt a little jerky, as well – a little bit stop-and-go rather than flowing seamlessly through scenes.  Regardless, there were a lot of times that I felt my heart racing, and I was anticipating each kill on the edge of my seat (again, what is wrong with me? We’ll never know).

Another aspect of the film that bothered me a little bit was the sound…mind you, I know nothing about what goes into the sound work on films, so this could be something that’s near impossible to fix, but every once in awhile during serious scenes, the sound was REALLY loud while everyone was screaming and crying and running, but during scenes with important, whispered dialogue, it was almost impossible to hear at the same volume, so I ran the risk of turning it up during speaking scenes but blowing out my eardrums during any other scene.

Other than that, I was really impressed.  The cast is awesome – very convincing, and there really isn’t too much dialogue so most of the acting is in their faces, which is done well.  I was especially impressed by Katie Keene (Jill in the film) – I sense a new scream queen in the making!

Whether you’re scared of clowns or not, CLOWNTOWN is definitely worth a watch.  It’s a fun, hour-and-a-half film that keeps you captivated the entire time, but is subtle, not overly gory, and is all-around well made.  It’s fun, and definitely awesome for someone that needs a clown fix while anticipating the new IT film (coming in 2017).

If you have coulrophobia, I want to hear all about it!  Tell me why you’re so afraid of clowns, I love a good story!

CLOWNTOWN will be in theaters September 30ths and available on DVD and VOD October 4th.

Taylor Krauss
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