June 17, 2016
Jon Watts, Christopher D. Ford
Andy Powers as Kent
Peter Stormare as Karlsson
Laura Allen as Meg
While Eli Roth didn’t direct Clown, he did once more prove he has an eye for awesome horror in getting behind the film as a producer. Roth has become one of the few genre figures who consistently spots – or creates – top notch stories and profoundly gruesome pics. Clowndoesn’t deviate from Roth’s pattern, in the slightest. In fact, in some regards this may be the most unforgiving picture Eli has ever been attached to. It’s downright savage and just about anything you can think to label taboo is cast under the spotlight in this controversial feature.
The story follows Kent, a loving father who steps up to save his child’s birthday party after the clown-for-hire pulls a no-show. Kent digs in the crates at the last minute and comes away with a nifty looking clown costume, just what he needs to spring a pleasant surprise for his boy. But while the birthday party goes off without hitch, the costume itself is anything but pleasant. In fact, it’s got a life all its own, and when the shindig has wrapped, and Kent attempts to remove the suit, he runs into some frightening issues. The suit won’t come off. Worse yet, it begins to change the man, transforming him into a creature that oozes evil and hunger… for small children. Can Kent save himself from eternal damnation, or is he destined to become the polar opposite of who he truly is, a monster in every sense of the word?
You don’t need to be a scientist to predict the final direction of this one. Things go from swell to hellish in a flash and watching a pure hearted father transform into evil incarnate is actually rather heartbreaking. And that’s part of the magic of the movie. It’s tense, it’s frightening, it’s wildly brutal and it’s extremely sad. Viewers may not feel the sorrow of the picture initially, as they’re subjected to some savagery rarely caught on film that is no doubt going to leave audiences stunned and repulsed, but once the truth of the plot sets in it becomes impossible to not feel a level of deep sadness for a man who was once a kind hearted, easy going father who simply wanted the best for his family.
The onscreen performances are great. Andy Powers completely owns the lead – and unfortunate – character. The always reliable Peter Stormare also does a fine job as Powers’ key support, although it would be criminal to not credit Laura Allen, who tackles the role of Meg, Kent’s wife who quickly finds herself at the heart of an inconceivable nightmare. Allen’s response to the situation feels extremely organic and her maternal side empowers everyone’s performance. She’s great, despite the fact that she isn’t exactly a seasoned veteran. As a whole, this is a cast that lacks some marquee appeal but proves that pure talent is pure talent and in the correct environment, pure talent will always impress.
There are also a lot of fantastic things going on behind the camera. There’s a fine special effects crew that create a truly frightening antagonist, Matthew Santo’s cinematography is excellent and the editing, handled by Robert Ryang is quite smooth. Standing atop the mountain is director Jon Watts who possesses a stellar understanding of horror. This is a guy who nails the proper sequences, delivers an amazing buildup and never once lets the momentum of the pic waver. Watts is a true talent and there’s little doubt we’ll see some big things from him in the near future.
Don’t jump into Clown expecting a comedic piece. It isn’t funny for one single moment, and it isn’t designed to be. This is the kind of movie that reminds us why clowns can be so terrifying. There’s something potentially sinister behind that red nose, beneath the white makeup. Jon Watts did a wonderful thing here, he took the “light” out of the smile and replaced it with a paralyzing tale that now ranks as one of the finest told in 2015. See this one the very instant you can, you can thank us later!