Movie Review: "Clown" (2014)
Are you scared of clowns? Then stay the fuck away! That's the best advice that I can give for this true "little gem" that I finally got around to watching tonight. Coulrophobia is no joke for a shitload of people- I dare say I don't know anyone that isn't at least mildly disturbed by clowns. Present company included.
There isn't much that rubs me the wrong way or genuinely scares me. What does get under my skin tends to be of the more real life variety: fear for my child's safety, death by burning or choking or drowning, bugs. That's about it.
Clowns, however, hold a secret place in my heart that I think most of us share. I can recall with eerie clarity a birthday party that was being given at the preschool I went to as a kid. I don't recall who's birthday it was (it could've been mine for all I remember), but I do remember that fucking clown. Every time my 5-year old self dared to glance at him he was looking right at me. It creeped me right the fuck out.
I fell in love with Pennywise, though, and Stephen King's "It" became the first truly "grown up" book I read. I've never looked back. I've come to peace with those assholes and their painted faces and fucked up outfits, but it never totally goes away. I believe it's a primal fear that taps right into (and gives some credence to) Jung's theory of Collective Unconscious. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
This movie is like no other clown film that I've seen. I'll lay out the premise by quoting what IMDB has to say, word for word, because it sums it up very succinctly: "A loving father finds a clown suit for his son's birthday party, only to realize that it is not a suit at all."
Have I got your attention yet? I hope so. If you're a horror fan at all then you need to see this. If you're not a horror fan then you should fucking man up and treat yourself to a little slice of the dark shit. No joke.
Kent (Andy Power, HBO's "Oz") is the loving father in question. He's a realtor who's faced with a dilemma while on the job at a deceased client's house. His 7 year-old son is NUTS about clowns, and the party clown he and his wife, Meg, book (Laura Allen, "The 4400") can't make it. He's a good Dad. There's an old clown costume in said house, and Daddy-O comes to the rescue. It's heartwarming and very well done.
There's a problem, though- he can't get the damn suit off. The hair has become his own and the nose is stuck on there. It's becoming part of him. The premise is outlandish, but can you just fucking imagine?
It's when Kent digs further into the backstory of the suit and the previous owner that I was really won over (although I was already leaning to that side of the fence anyways). Veteran character actor Peter Stormare ("Fargo", "The Big Lebowski") teaches us the true history of clowns and it is FUCKED UP with a capital every letter! I absolutely love the mythology behind the Icelandic origin of the clown (or cloyne as it was known). It's dark as all hell and ugly and taboo and gorgeous all at once.
Director Jon Watts (upcoming "Spider-Man: Homecoming") does a deft job of building the tension and keeping the family drama believable for the most part. No movie is perfect, but the writing (he also co-wrote) keeps it pretty grounded. The moral questions raised are legit. The gore is fantastically minimal when it needs to be and balls out when you're begging for it.
Fantastic side note: this movie was funded based on the strength of a 1-minute short. That's a strong statement.
Fantastic side note #2: Looking at the first images of the Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise the Dancing Clown in the NEW "It" I can see the influence, especially in the costume. It's very ancient and used and the polar opposite of the miniseries' bright, shiny duds they put on the God known as Tim Curry.
Not to beat a dead horse, but you need to do yourself a favor and check this bad-boy out. It's .99 cents to rent on Amazon Prime. You can't beat that. This is one that you will thank me for recommending if you're a horror fan.
You'll fucking hate me for it if you've got Coulrophobia.
I'm not sorry.