Production Year: 2014
Release Date: 03/02/2015
Director: Jon Watts
Review by Matthew Mills

Clowns are nothing new to the horror genre. They have been a staple of the genre for decades, whether as otherworldly demons (‘It’), outer-space-aliens-incognito (‘Killer Klowns from Outer Space’,) or straight-up psycho killers (‘100 Tears’). Not merely an essential part of the landscape of modern horror, but also as part of fears and phobias people have in their everyday lives (myself included). There is just something intangibly creepy and inherently unsettling about them.

 Relative newcomer Jon Watts directs and co-writes this Eli Roth-produced horror about a loving father, husband and all round family man, real estate agent Kent McCoy (Andy Powers). On the day of his young son Jack’s Birthday, the scheduled clown fails to show. Looking around the property he is in the process of trying to sell he discovers a clown suit that has been left by the previous owner. Donning the suit, he returns home to save the day and avoid disappointing his son. The problems soon start, Kent discovers that it's now impossible to remove the costume.  Kent tracks down the brother of the previous owner (the ever-creepy Peter Stormare), who soon reveals the terrifying truth – the suit is actually the skin of an ancient, folkloric demon called ‘Cloyne’ that possesses whomever wears the suit; gradually turning them into a bloodthirsty and violent being.

To reveal any more would be foolish!  From this point the film methodically and somewhat  tragically tracks Kent’s breakdown and degeneration into a malevolent demon, who commits increasingly brutal and sadistic acts of violence.   At it's heart this film is a tragic tale that has more in common with ‘The Fly’ (1986) than any of the aforementioned clown-related horrors. We witness Kent sinking deeper and deeper into inhumanity due to the forces he cannot understand nor control. We simply know that this cannot end well.

The film is technically and competently made.  Direction, acting and photography are all of an extremely high standard. The gore and blood effects are visceral and convincing.  The only problems lie with pacing; the film starts off briskly but a languid second act slows things down.  The script which is strong in terms of character, lacks enough plot to sustain the film's 100 minute run time. This is a feature film thats central idea is fantastic, but which may have been better suited to a short or part of an anthology. Nevertheless, the movie is a solid achievement in many respects, it has a fair level of originality, a sympathetic central performance,   and a building sense of dread that will linger with you after the final shot.

 Overall this is a film that remains worth watching in spite of some of it’s more obvious shortcomings.  Director Jon Watts is certainly a newcomer worthy of following!

 God, I hate clowns.

Cannibal Reviews would like to welcome Matthew Mills to the website!  Matthew will contribute reviews to the website, you can also find more of his reviews on his youtube channel!