As the title suggests, I am readying myself for It. It being It, I mean. Not this or that, but It. Stephen King’s Pennywise the Clown, if you hadn’t noticed following the abundance of footage and various trailers, is a’coming. Yippee. With the risk of evolving this blog into a King fan page, I will shut up about the master horror writer, even though it’s impossible to ignore the fact that two of his biggest works are being adapted/remade into movies this year, with Mr. Mercedes yet to release as a tv show.
It is what is important here. In preparation for the upcoming horror movie (of which, in my opinion, has had too much material releases already, in direct contrast to Sony’s poor late next-to-no marketing of The Dark Tower) I decided to check out Clown, a film unsurprisingly about Clowns, as well as checking out The Last Podcast On The Left‘s podcast episode on John Wayne Gacy, the Killer Clown.
Clown is neither particularly bad or particularly good, though I will admit to being extremely bored throughout the first two acts, as the film meandered in its build up to the true horror. This is usually completely okay with films of the genre, as long as the outcome is entirely worth it. Horror films can disperse the gore or scares throughout or create a compelling enough narrative to truly build towards their bloody, violent conclusions. Clown takes too much time and hides away from any real horror (often the camera cuts to blood hitting a wall, rather focusing on the real deal) that one would expect from a film of this theme. By the time the first scene closes, we know the entire premise and can plot out the entire story of the film, but the film still takes its bloody sweet time about getting anywhere.
Kent McCoy, husband, father, workaholic home salesman, conveniently finds a clown costume in a chained-up trunk in the basement of the house he is selling on the very day of his son’s clown-themed birthday. When the clown they had booked for the party inevitably pulls out and can’t come, by all the luck of the Irish does Kent don the convenient clown costume and party on. Firstly, with our knowledge of clowns in regards to urban legends following Gacy’s infamy and beyond, what parent is throwing a clown party and which deranged kid is asking for it? Secondly, the chances of finding a clown costume in a basement are akin only to the bad luck of everyone but the final girl in a slasher movie, so I guess that’s fitting.
It soon turns out that this unlikely costume is more of a demonic skin that refuses to budge once worn, slowly transforming the wearer into a killer clown, rather than innocent Ronald McDonald attire. This happens, as you’d imagine, fairly swiftly. The audiences get it straight away, it is clown rather than rocket science (though I’m sure NASA would be interested in just how so many clowns fit inside a small car). Yet, for the most part of the movie, not an awful lot happens. Not even my girlfriend’s phobia of clowns was tested as the bulk of the movie focused on a transformation that was inconsistent – too slow for the majority of the running time and drastically sped up towards the end. What’s more, by the time Kent reaches the part in which his appearance is at its most horrifying, he transforms further into a lanky, twitchy demon clown as the film reaches its Halloween-esque conclusion, aged and in-the-know old guy and all.
If clowns fit somewhere between abject terror and childish joy, Clown sits in the middle at mediocre boorishness. It indeed has its moments (one scene sees an elaborately planned suicide involving saws, only for it to be screwed up, leaving a child dead and ready for eating) but the foundation in which builds towards these moments is so basic and clichéd that any deaths or elements of horror are underwhelming. Of course the final act picks up the climactic pace, but it’s not enough to make up for the rest. Parallels between Clown‘s story and The Fly with Brundell’s transformation are of course prevalent, yet Clown features little in the way of the gross body horror – feet burst through shoes and the clown nose rips part of Kent’s nose off, but most of the transfiguration occurs off-screen. From a body horror/transformation perspective, the film is a generic let-down.
The most bizarre thing about the film is in its director, Jon Watts. Clown, his debut feature, led into Cop Car, a film I still mean to catch but was by no means a massive talking point, and then there is a sudden amazing, web-slinging leap to Spiderman: Homecoming. It is understandable when Marvel gives directorial reigns for Thor: Ragnarök to the guy who directed What We Do In The Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, as Marvel is heightening the comedy tenfold following Guardians of the Galaxy. To give the directorial position to a twice failed franchise that is finally seeing Spiderman swing into the MCCU to a guy who directed Clown and Cop Car seems, to me at least, weird.
Is Clown worth watching? I’d say probably not. It’s a bit of a bore, failing to frighten even the most creeped out by clowns, meandering through its plot as it holds a cracked, dirty, distorted mirror up to The Fly. By the time the thrills and blood spills come, like myself, you might wonder why you hadn’t turned it off when you had the chance. However, it may be worth skipping to the scene in which Peter Stormare unironically bends down and, in his heavy Swedish accent, tells more little Jacky ‘We’re gonna have to kill your daddy.’ His delivery is perhaps more savage than any of the clown killings during the rest of this dull horror affair. Wait for It, instead.
The Film Fanatic