Clown (Movie Review)

Clown (Movie Review)
5 10

PLOT: After donning an old clown costume for his child's birthday celebration, Kent McCoy comes to the horrific realization he now cannot take it off. Worse, he's becoming one with it and taking on a decidedly monstrous personality chance.

REVIEW: After seeing CLOWN, it's a tad chilling to think director Jon Watts is currently helming SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING, because this flick - now being released in the states after sitting on the shelf about two years - is anything but kid friendly. It does show the director's promise, however, and if nothing else CLOWN represents an adequate, if quite morbid, showcase for the talented Mr. Watts. Still, it's not exactly the gruesome party one might have hoped for.

CLOWN tells the tale of Kent McCoy (Andy Powers), successful realtor and happily married family man who, on a whim (a rather unfortunate one at that) decides to dress himself in a clown costume he finds in an empty home for his son's birthday party. The impulsive act goes swimmingly at said party, but Kent soon discovers something rather troubling: he can't remove the suit. Furthermore, the suit begins to take on a life of its own, melding itself with Kent's body and transforming him into a ghoulish creature - one that desires the blood of children. Turns out this costume isn't really a costume at all, but a parasitic demon (this is helpfully explained by Peter Stormare as the suit's crazed former owner) that can't be stopped unless it is fed five children or beheaded. That's quite the pickle for Kent's wife Meg (Laura Allen), who has to decide just how much she loves her husband.

As goofy as that scenario may sound, CLOWN is no laughing matter. Watts' film is played completely straight, most chances at levity are ignored in favor of a grim, even depressing, atmosphere. I like horror movies that take their material earnestly, but for whatever reason CLOWN is somewhat off-putting, especially as Kent becomes more and more consumed with evil yearnings. (If you're especially sensitive to pre-teen casualties, well, you may wanna skip this one.) The fact that Kent is stuck with this suit isn't exploited in amusing ways, and some opportunities at dark humor would have helped carry the narrative along. The horror stuff is mostly effective, with a handful of well-executed scares and suspense sequences, but there's also a tendency for CLOWN to drag as it becomes something of a procedural, with Meg investigating the suit's origins and attempting to find the elusive Kent/demon. The fact that CLOWN started life as a short (actually, a fake trailer) becomes obvious as the story runs out of steam a good while before the predictable slasher-style finale. (At 99 minutes, CLOWN could easily have trimmed 10 of those.)

Watts is adept at making the scenario extremely gloomy - he even gives Chuck E. Cheese a palpably sinister vibe - and Kent's transformation is a rather uncomfortable thing to behold; the more the suit takes him over, the ickier his visage becomes. (The excellent make-up work here by Tony Gardner must be commended.) And Powers' performance, while ultimately hidden under a large amount of latex, is strong enough to give you sympathetic leanings toward the character even as he becomes a literal monster. Allen does what she can with a role that isn't exactly overflowing with interesting details, and Stormare can always be relied upon to go gleefully over-the-top, munching the scenery as voraciously as the demon chows down tykes.

But as admirably executed CLOWN is, it just doesn't have enough exuberance to make a lasting impression; it's too bleak to be considered fun, too inherently silly to be taken seriously. This CLOWN you don't want to invite to your party, and I dare say a movie about a demonic clown suit should have been a blast.

Extra Tidbit: CLOWN comes out in theaters and on VOD today, June 17th.



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