Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
Febrary 1st, 2017


Directed by Jon Watts
Written by Christopher D. Ford
Starring Laura Allen, Christian Distefano, Andy Powers, Peter Stormare
100 Mins

I have grown leery, over the years, of pretty much anything with Eli Roth's name on it. It doesn't often end well. Sure, Cabin Fever did all right, but after that, it turned into a generally downhill slope. So when he brought out a new movie--which he only produced--I was noticeably squeamish. That's when I started in with "Clown," and discovered that Eli Roth's best days were not in fact behind him.

"Clown" follows Kent McCoy, real estate agent and family man, who sets up a prime birthday party for son Jack, featuring a birthday clown. A simple, innocent affair, at least until the clown doesn't make it. Kent, desperate, finds a clown costume in the basement of a house he's selling. He puts the costume on, and discovers that being a clown isn't so much an occupation as a way of life. He's becoming a clown, and with that transmogrification comes strange new appetites...and a horror potentially greater than any he's ever known.

This is actually not the first time I've seen something like this. In fact, this is almost exactly the same premise as was found in a short in "Scary or Die" from 2012 called "Clowned". It's been significantly altered, and substantially augmented, but it's a shocking similarity all the same. I'm not the only one who noticed this commonality, either, but you'll likely find that it doesn't much affect the final product.

The good news is that this is easily one of the better Eli Roth movies out there. It's not exactly tough to be a good Eli Roth movie--this is the guy who did "Hostel" and its immediate sequel--but he's had some good ones as well like "The Last Exorcist". This is proving to be one of his better ones. There's some decent horror, some unexpected dashes of comedy, some mild shots of pathos...the whole thing has a surprising effect to it that really meshes well. I'm very surprised by the whole concept, and am certainly pleased to have seen it. It takes a real stroke of brilliance to turn what looks like a Chuck E. Cheese or some derivative thereof and turn it into a genuinely creepy environment. This movie did exactly that.

The ending is a bit on the nose, and features the obligatory mild twist, but does the job reasonably well.

Special features include your choice of English or Spanish subtitles, a making of featurette, and a trailer for "Regression" inaccessible from the main disc.

All in all, "Clown" is a surprisingly entertaining little outing. Though it bears more than a few resemblances to movies that came before it, it's got quite a bit going for it. It delivers on several fronts, and combines horror, drama and a bit of comedy into a beautiful three-ring circus of fright.