April 2, 2013 (DVD)
Conor McMahon, David O'Brien
Ross Noble as Stitches
Tommy Knight as Tom
Shame Murray Corcoran as Vinny
Gemma-Leah Devereux as Kate
Thommas Kayne Burns as Bulger
Stitches was burdened by heavy American expectation. Prior to official release the web was flooded with plenty of promotional material, including heaps of promising footage, and a couple close shots of some seemingly intense graphic gore. Stateside, we carried big hope into this viewing experience. Director and co-writer Conor McMahon (who penned the tale with David O’Brien) didn’t disappoint. All the hype growing around Stitches is justified, through and through.
Well, perhaps I need to backtrack and include a bit of a warning: if you’re one to seek out the dark, dead-serious, ultra bleak clown tale, Stitches won’t work for you.
Now, if you bought into this film for what it is, and has appeared to be since the release of the first official trailer: mindless gore with loads of taboo terror and black humor, you’ll find yourself greatly satisfied with this Irish production. It’s all the balls to the wall chaos hinted at in the trailers, plus a little more intensity than one might expect. A winner you ask? Oh, most definitely.
There’s not much to the story itself. It’s run-of-the-mill revenge fodder for the bloodthirsty mind. But it’s well executed, and fully aware of its stance as simplistic entertainment. Stitches never pretends to be some brilliant film caked with countless layers of diversity and complex commentary. It doesn’t pretend to be the most frightening film in existence, or a vehicle for the reinvention of the petrifying clown. What it does is grant viewers a fantastic escape from reality. The gore is stunning and hearkens back to successfully over-the-top flicks like the original Evil Dead. The laughs are heartfelt, and the characters, as despicable as they may be are interesting creatures to study.
For a cut and dried revenge flick, Stitches excels in the perfect way. McMahon understands that the most important aspect of a genre piece is the fun factor. The joy one gets out of a crazy picture. It’s that vehicle that enables us to, even for the briefest of time periods, let go of all the serious shit in our lives and just take in something brainlessly amazing. Yes, Conor McMahon gets the big picture, and the big picture is really rather basic: a good horror movie is a blast to watch. A boring, drawn out, pretentious horror film isn’t a scintillating watch. An all or nothing, aesthetically pleasing assault on the eye and brain is, and that’s often all there is to it.
While the cast (Ross Noble as Stitches, Tommy Knight as Tom, Shane Murray Corcoran as Vinny, Gemma-Leah Devereux as Kate and Thommas Kane Byrnes as Bulger) does a wonderful job, and their characters (Stitches is obviously the psychopathic clown killer; Tom’s a headcase deeply troubled by the past, Vinny’s the trouble making but loyal sidekick, Kate is Tom’s object of desire and Bulger is the flamboyant dude you can’t help but love) are all fun, memorable personalities, it isn’t one lone performer that seals the deal. These young thespians rely on one another to create killer chemistry, and it works. Suck a key player from the lineup and this one might not have been as enjoyable as it indeed was.
The gore is off the charts. So, if you love a little ultra-violence and some extremely graphic death scenes, you’re going to love this one. One drunken fool gets his head kicked clean off of his shoulders in a fun nod to Jason Takes Manhattan. Another hapless victim gets her skull pierced from behind, projecting straight through her eye socket, of course bringing that eye along with it, up close and personal for the camera and viewer to see. There really are some top notch death scenes to take in, and they’re all handled with a dark edge, but a hint of comedy that just really, really works well.
I wasn’t entirely certain of what to anticipate from Stitches (I thought Smiley was going to be a good film, after all), but I can say that after two viewings, I’m tremendously pleased. This is the ideal drunken Saturday night horror flick. It’s engaging on all levels, and I’m betting a creative mind could conjure up one savage drinking game to support the raucous viewing experience. Give Stitches a go. Hell, give Stitches a buy, this is a fun flick that feels 1980’s but shocks like only 2013 can. It deserves a permanent place on the shelf.