Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 17, 2016)
Does any allegedly innocuous figure inspire as much discomfort as the clown? I doubt it, and that allows these supposed mirth-makers to become the focus of horror movies such as 2016’s aptly—titled Clown.
When the clown hired for his son Jack’s (Christian Distefano) seventh birthday party, Kent McCoy (Andy Powers) comes to the rescue. He finds an old costume and dons it to entertain Jack and his pals.
This comes with an unfortunate side effect. When Kent tries to remove the costume, it won’t come off, and it slowly starts to affect him in other ways – horrible ways, in fact.
At the very least, Clown brings us an interesting premise. Granted, the concept of a cursed item that takes over its owner doesn’t seem particularly new, but the movie twists it enough to give it a little edge and creativity.
Does the execution of the tale do much with it? Ehh. While not a bad horror experience, Clown never turns into anything especially compelling or scary.
Some of this comes from the lack of build-up. Clown goes for so many attempts at scares/drama so soon that it lacks much room for growth. When a scene that resembles a climax shows up less than one-third of the way into the story, we don’t find a good path to greater satisfaction later.
That “too much, too soon” vibe does come back to haunt Clown. Sure, many movies get away with “climax-like” sequences early – everyone who saw Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981 thought the opening scene would be tough to top – but this factor seems more problematic here.
Maybe that’s because even at its best, Clown fails to become especially scary or dramatic. Even if we buy into its supernatural premise, the story lacks much depth or intrigue. We follow Kent’s descent into demonic madness and vaguely wonder how his journey will end, but we don’t invest a lot into events.
A better version of the sort of story told here comes from 1986’s The Fly. Both feature men overtaken by horrible physical transformations that lead them to commit terrible acts.
The difference is that The Fly offers a strong character piece with real dramatic development, whereas Clown tends toward a more simplistic horror vibe. We get a lot of gross-out moments with little to make the movie memorable.
All of this leaves Clown as a pretty average horror tale. It offers enough creepiness to ensure that it maintains moderate viewer interest, but it can’t develop into anything better than that.