GAGS, the first feature-length film from writer/director Adam Krause, is a found-footage film centered on a mysterious clown that appears in Green Bay, WI. The film stars indie darling Lauren Ashley Carter (Imitation Girl), Aaron Christensen (Dead Weight), Tracy Perez (Animal Kingdom), and Evan Gamble (Hap and Leonard).
A few years ago, residence in Wisconsin began to encounter a terrifying clown that would randomly appear in their neighborhood. It became so unnerving that it eventually landed on the nightly news. Unbeknownst to them, and most everyone (including myself), this clown was part of a viral marketing stunt for Adam Krause’s short film, Gags. The short has now become a feature film in which the viewer watches four different stories come together in the course of one night with the focal point being their encounters with Gags the Clown. We are introduced to a trio of teens hellbent on scaring the community, an ambitious news reporter hoping to scoop the story from her nemesis, a right-wing podcaster who plans on taking this whole clown matter into his own hands, and a pair of cops looking to restore order in the face of all the unfolding madness.
Let me start this review off by saying that I do not like clowns. I don’t think they are cute, I don’t think they are funny, and I sure as shit don’t want to hang out with one. They creep me out and I sincerely apologize to all the good-natured clowns of the world, but ya’ll aren’t for me. I blame my coulrophobia on watching Killer Klowns From Outer Space at a very young, impressionable age, but I digress. What makes Gags the Clown so terrifying is that he’s not your typical killer clown. He’s not ripping people to shred or using corny one-liner jokes before he dismembers you – his terror comes from a quiet, still, place and is executed brilliantly in this film.
Aside from Gags the Clown being the real show stopper, what really drives this film is the four interweaving stories. As a massive fan of Lauren Ashley Carter, I am just going to come out and say that her portrayal of newscaster Heather Duprey is quite literally what I want out of a spirit animal. As per usual, Carter doesn’t disappoint in showcasing her range of talent, easily becoming one of my favorite characters in the film. I also found that I really loved Aaron Christensen’s portrayal of an NRA-loving, right-wing podcaster determined to take Gags the Clown down, even if that means using violent force. He was incredibly captivating onscreen and even though he’s meant to be a caricature of people who possess his extreme personality traits, the satirical depiction isn’t that far off.
My only gripe with the acting had to do with the trio of teenagers. I felt as though their performances paled in comparison to their contemporaries, which took me out of the film at times. However, it wasn’t a big enough distraction to deter me from my overall viewing experience. In all honesty, I really loved this movie, as I think it was effective in being creepy without the overuse of cheap jumpscares as well as incorporating humor in ways that took jabs at how the media presents news to its viewers. As for the kills… I found those to be some of the most interesting aspects of the film. Gags the Clown doesn’t kill like you would normally suspect, instead, he uses his own unique methods that allow him to be much more frightening than initially thought.
Overall, GAGS is a worthy entry into the clown sub-genre of horror. Though some of the acting could have been fine-tuned more, I think the overall execution of the film was stellar, especially when it came to intersecting the four narratives into one. I even liked how the found-footage aspect looked and the few moments in which they used a first-person viewpoint. GAGS isn’t perfect, it definitely has its fault, but the positives far outweigh the negative, making this film one of my favorite clown related horror films of the year!