Over the last few weeks, the news has been inundated with reports of people dressed as clowns mysteriously appearing in communities across the globe. At first, their appearances were largely non-threatening, often loitering like a low rate Michael Myers but then elevated to wielding knives and armed robberies. This has been met with a mix of intrigue and derision, and the general public has been less than receptive to the idea of a creepy clown hanging around their property or stalking their family for nothing else but their own amusement. There is an inherent distrust of clowns for the most part, with Coulrophobia being the phobia of them, despite the fact that they are supposed to elicit humor and happiness.
Perhaps it’s fitting then that director Jon Watts project Clown began as something of a joke. Watts and Chris Ford, the screenwriter, made a now infamous fake trailer and even credited Eli Roth as a producer despite the fact he wasn’t associated with the project at all at that time. This ballsy move prompted many to believe that the film was a real thing, and convinced Roth himself to make the project a reality with Watts and Ford and it began shooting in 2012.
After languishing in the release date graveyard the film saw a staggered release across the globe that started in Italy 2014 and ended most recently with the USA in the summer of 2016.
And it is with firm belief that I state Clown, in my opinion, is one of the best monster films in years that deliver an incredibly unique cinematic creature and slow burn body horror amidst the family drama.
The story tells the tale of Kent McCoy (Andy Powers), a generic everyman working as a real estate agent. While juggling the renovation of a new property and his child’s birthday party he uncovers a clown costume with the property’s basement. With the clown, he’d booked for his kid’s party needing replacing he thinks quick and dons the costume and pretends to be an entertainer. However, he soon realizes something is amiss when he is unable to remove the suit, and it is in fact possessed by an ancient demonic entity “The Cloyne” that acts like a parasite feeding off of its host, becoming one with them and making them yearn to eat the flesh of children.
At first, the set-up is darkly humorous with Kent’s fruitless attempts to remove the costume played with a wry smile but soon the comedy evaporates as each attempt leaves him more desperate, distraught and disfigured. His skin grows paler, his rubber nose turns into a redraw scab and his hands and feet distort with boney cracks and claws.
In his desperate search for a cure, he encounters Herbert Karlsson (Peter Stormare), somebody who knows the secrets of “The Cloyne” after his own brother fell afoul of its curse. Karlsson breaks the news to McCoy that the curse is permanent and the only release for him is death.
Clown strikes the delicate balance between pitch-black humor and horror with masterful strokes, and despite the inherent absurdity of the concept it plays it straight-faced with one hundred percent commitment. It is this sincerity that elevates the film to something special for me. As a lifelong fan of cinematic monsters, Clown is a breath of fresh air in today’s extreme horror world. Its set-up is simple, its delivery elegant and its payoff brilliantly tragic. Most importantly at its heart a monster that is memorable and unique, something its concept could have easily fumbled but it introduces a legitimate and otherworldly threat with aplomb.
I dare say this film is nostalgic at a time when horror films increasingly turn to shock tactics and gross out concepts to one-up each other. Fans who like simmering dread, iconic creatures and a story that’s not afraid to have the audience sympathize with the titular creature, as we watch a once good man slowly enveloped by a horrific curse and dares you to come along for the ride.
Daniel Marc Chant – Is no stranger to Machine Mean, having reviewed for us both The Mummy (1932) and The Creature Walks Among Us(1956) during our Universal Monsters in Review series. Mr. Chant is also the published author of several terrifying tales, including Maldicion, Burning House,, Mr. Robespierre, Aimee Bancroft and The Singularity Storm, and his latest release with Into Fear. Daniel is also one of the founders of The Sinister Horror Company, the publishing team that brought us such frights as, The Black Room Manuscripts Vol. 1 and 2 and God Bomb!. You can follow Daniel on his blog, here. And you can read his review on The Mummyhere.
And as always, if you enjoyed what you’ve read here on Machine Mean, please subscribe to our author mailing list by clicking on the “FREE BOOK” image below to not only receive updates on sales and new releases, but also a free anthology of dark fiction.
October 18, 2016 | Categories: Horror, Reviews | Tags: 2014, birthday, clown, clowns, Daniel Marc Chant, dark, Eli Roth, film, Fright Fest, fright fest 2016, Guest author, Halloween, Halloween Movie Marathon, Horror, horror movie reviews, horror reviews, movie reviews, nightmare, Reviews | Leave a comment