The narrative of the creepy or killer clown is getting a little old. This might just be personal since I’ve never found clowns particularly frightening. There have been a few notable killer clowns, however; Stiches, Vulgar, and, of course, Pennywise. These all succeed in creating quality horror through great performances from the actors and not because they happen to be clowns. The one thing I will say about using a clown in your film is this, it will always evoke a certain reaction for a fairly sizable chunk of the viewing audience. I’ve wondered in the past what it was about clowns that people hated so much and I think the response I got from my own mother was my favorite so far.
Looking at it that way I can thoroughly understand people’s fears because it sort of plays off of my own personal fear of, and please don’t laugh at me, werewolves. the two biggest things that I find so disconcerting about werewolves is their loss of control, and more on point with the topic, their loss of self. When you don that make up, you are no longer you...you are now an alter-ego. I imagine there’s a certain amount of schizophrenia involved in being a clown. You’re the living embodiment of dual personality.
Clowntown follows the story of 2 couples traveling to an unspecified concert and wind up lost and tormented by a gang of lunatic clowns. That’s it, and honestly, when dealing with some slasher flicks, that’s enough. Unfortunately Clowntown could have used a little more.
The film has plenty I could complain about and I’ll get into some of that in a bit, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t start with what they got absolutely right. The antagonists are spot on! They’re creepy, menacing, psychotic, cruel, and just about everything you’d want in slasher film baddies! Which made me sad when so much of that is destroyed when you find out a little more about them. It’s a shame, really. Another thing I rather enjoyed about Clowntown was how, visually, everything was just gorgeous. The lighting was so well done and every scene was as crisp as a freshly picked apple. Kudos to the visual team, great job.
Now I hate to nitpick about things I didn’t enjoy in a film, so I will stick to the main offenders. The pacing in Clowntown is so incredibly slow that instead of the usual second act slump, this one has first, second, and most of the third act slumps. Almost nothing happens before the clowns show up and it’s not much of an improvement once they do. You can tell that they were trying to go for a slow burn thriller, exploding at the end in a shower of insanity. Sadly, it just falls flat. Everything is just so damn slow.
Clowntown also fails to give us any characters to care about. The protagonists are there to be killed off one by one and that’s about it. The two we’re supposed to care about, we don’t. We’re given a promise of a marriage proposal from one of the guys, a cheap tactic to make him more relatable. I can’t even blame the actors, they all do a pretty great job. There are one or two weak links, but nothing worth going on about. I guess what I would say is the biggest issue with the film is it’s utter predictability. I was playing a game with myself, starting about the halfway point, when I realized that I had called several moments before they had happened. I would predict what would happen next and pretty much every time, I was right.
“The clown will step into the doorway”
“The clown will pop out and snatch this guy”
“The guy will show up to save the day, since we think he’s dead”
“The Clown will wind up in that garbage truck”
There is a chance that my expectations were a little high, though. The trailer that was put out for Clowntown was amazing and I was a fan of producer Jeff Miller’s Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan. It’s very likely that I expected a slightly more manic film. This one just felt, to quote Immortan Joe, “mediocre”. This could be a fun one to watch with friends with plenty of beer involved as you ride to the gates of Valhalla all shiny and chrome.
I guess I’m off to go watch another film now.
0 Marriage Proposals
Available in Theaters: September 30, 2016
Available on DVD and VOD: October 4, 2016
Rated: Not Rated
Running Time: 86 Minutes