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Review by: 
Head Cheeze
Release Date: 
Aspect Ratio: 
Directed by: 
Jon Watts
Andy Powers
Laura Allen
Peter Stormare
Christian Distefano
Bottom Line: 

While gorehounds wait for Eli Roth’s return to the director’s chair with the oft-delayed “The Green Inferno”, one of the genre’s most polarizing figures does have a few producing credits floating about in the interim, including Clown; a full-length version of a faux trailer of an “Eli Roth film” created by Jon Watts and Christopher D. Ford that was meant to be a bit of a joke at Roth’s expense, but ultimately attracted him to the property. As a four minute goof, Clowns proved tremendously entertaining, but how does the concept translate to a full-fledged feature?

Meet Kent McCoy (Andy Powers). A mild-mannered real estate agent, devoted husband, and loving dad, Kent finds himself in a bit of a bind when his wife, Meg (Laura Allen) calls to let him know that the clown they scheduled for their clown-obsessed (and who isn’t? /sarcasm) son Jack’s (Christian Distefano) birthday party has cancelled at the last minute, leaving it up to Kent to find an alternative. Lucky for him, one of the houses he’s currently serving as a sales agent for happens to have a collection of costumes in its cluttered basement, including a tattered old clown costume stored in a trunk. Kent dons the clown duds and saves Jack’s party, winning brownie points from the wife, and the adoration of his son. Exhausted from a full day’s clowning, Kent falls asleep while wearing the getup, only to wake up late to bring Jack to school and meet the construction workers at the house from which he found the costume. Kent rushes to the bathroom to get ready, but, despite his best efforts, he simply cannot get out of the clown suit, while the wig, make-up, and nose seem permanently affixed to his face.

Kent is understandably inconvenienced, but still must go on with his day, and, later in the evening, with the help of Meg, he’s finally able to remove the nose (along with a good deal of skin), but the rest of the costume refuses to budge. Kent is also beginning to experience some serious hunger pains and disorientation, especially around children. After a visit to the doctor yields no results, Kent returns to the house where he found the costume, and, after digging through the previous owner’s belongings, manages to get in touch with the costume’s previous owner (and brother of the deceased former homeowner), Herbert Karlsson (Peter Stormare). Karlsson invites Kent to come to him so that he may help remove the costume, but, after Kent arrives, Karlsson drugs him and straps him down to a table, whereupon he tells Kent of the true nature of the clown suit. It is, in fact, the skin of a child-eating demon known as the Cloyne, and that, from the moment Kent put the costume on, he had succumbed to the demon’s curse.  

Karlsson insists that the only way to end the curse is for him to behead Kent, but Kent manages to wriggle free of his binds and escape. However, it’s not long before Kent begins to undergo a physical transformation, as well as an undeniable hunger for the flesh of children.

Clown is a hard film to describe as it seems to go through something of a tonal shift with each act. The first third of the film is something of a slow-moving psychological horror piece, while the second act gives way to more traditional horror tropes. It’s in the third act, however, where clown really shines, as the film goes balls out, ladling on the gore and black humor in equal doses. I really haven’t seen anything like this in quite some time, as the harming of children in horror films is still something of a taboo. Here, however, it’s handled with a sense of humor and purpose, and plays out like a Grimm’s Fairy Tale as envisioned by a Dead Alive-era Peter Jackson.

Clown is also buoyed by some great practical FX work, a few solid scares, and solid performances by Powers, Allen, and Stormare. The real star, however, is Watts’ taut direction and Matthew Santo’s lush and moody cinematography.

I’ve been following the development of Clown since the film was announced nearly five years ago, so I’ve been chomping at the bit to see it since it made its European theatrical debut in November of 2014! Sadly, I’ve heard nothing about a North American release for the film, so I opted to import my copy from the U.K., where it is currently available on DVD from Studiocanal as well as an ultra-expensive and limited (500 copies) Blu-ray from something called Zaavi. The Studiocanal DVD is a fairly barebones release, but at $16 dollars U.S. as an import from, to me, it’s more than worth the purchase. I hope that the film gets a better treatment (Blu-ray? Extras?) when it does finally debut stateside.

Of course, this is also a Region 2 DVD, so lest ye have a region free player, this platter won’t spin on your machine.

While Clown starts off a bit slow, the film quickly works up a nice head of steam that builds up to a wonderfully gonzo final act. This is one fantastic looking film, with excellent production values across the board, and it really makes me wonder why it was denied a North American theatrical release. Highly recommended! 

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