Clown Blu-ray Review
Clowns are kind of an enigma. To some a delight, bringing joy and fun to adults and children alike; to others a nightmare in makeup that doesn’t quite seems right, something sinister brewing just below the surface in a seemingly happy package. I myself never really felt anything (joy, sadness, or fear) when seeing a clown until I was in the 6th grade and STEPHEN KING’S IT was adapted for television and released on ABC. Tim Curry gave yet another masterclass (watch him in his movies and he’s either on or not, one of the greats or just completely checked out) as Pennywise, a clown who gave everyone reasons to fear clowns (as long as you didn’t watch the end of the adaptation).
In turn, you grow up and learn about real life, truly evil persons in the world who used the guise of the clown to take advantage of children and families (see: John Wayne Gacy aka ‘Pogo the Clown’ who murdered 33 people before he was caught and hid the bodies inside the framework of his house). All this is to say using the clown as a dramatic or horrific prop makes total sense but it has been done before. If you’re going to tackle it again, you really want to see something original or something that takes the idea to a new level and I can say that the newly released horror film CLOWN (2014) does a phenomenal job and uses these old ideas in some interesting ways.
CLOWN is the story of a young father, Kent (Andy Powers, who’s longest stint was on OZ in 2002-2003 as Franklin Winthrop), who is just trying to keep his family going. He’s a struggling realtor who’s in-laws don’t seem to care for him but he seems to have a great family with his wife and their son. But when they are holding a birthday party, the only thing his son wants is a clown. (I can’t identify with this at all – is this something that happens in Hollywood homes a lot?) But when the clown cancels Kent, who is at a home he’s just become the realtor for, notices a closet full of costumes and thinks that maybe he can fill in as the clown. Ta-Da! There is a clown costume! Perfect! Only that night he can’t seem to get it off. The wig seems to be stuck to his head. And the nose. And the costume seems an awful lot like… skin? Kent slowly begins to transform and we watch as a good man loses control.
The story behind the outward horror plot is fairly interesting as well but I think that’s the part that shouldn’t be revealed. Thankfully it’s the kind of thing they could reveal with relatively few special effects and pull off quite nicely. The cinematography and screenplay are really what shine in CLOWN, frankly they are both very well done and executed (aside from one snafu at the front of the film). CLOWN feels like a horror film out of time, the kind of movie that could have come from the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, or today and it would resonate equally well in any of those times because the subject matter is equally interesting and timeless. That’s important because so many of the horror movies released these days rely on a gimmick that will only be important or interesting for this week or this year.
The snafu I mentioned at the opening of the film appears to be the cinematography and editing though it could have been done in post… the lighting is vibrant which makes sense but the birthday party and the moments immediately following devolve into a kind of trippy/hazy dream that appears to be falling apart. This could be an attempt at foreshadowing but it is so labored as to completely draw you out and make you wonder why and what you are watching (in other words it just doesn’t work). However, the rest of CLOWN does work, it’s creepy as hell and doesn’t spend too much time with the gore (though there is some). Most of the big scares are slow-burn psychological ones, which suits me just fine.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2.40:1) The video presentation of CLOWN is grainy and independent looking, which I didn’t take for a bad thing at all. It fits the subject and the way the film was shot quite nicely.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The audio quality for CLOWN is very nice and gives you a real sense of horror and suspense at some moments when you just want a break… but if you like these kind of movies you’ll love it.
Making CLOWN: Featuring Producer Eli Roth (06:24) Roth talks about how he became involved with CLOWN, apparently because of a fake trailer circulated by Watts during preproduction that included Roth’s name and really struck a chord with people.