Thursday, October 5, 2017

Clown (2014): A Monster Movie with a Sophie's Choice Scenario

Our 31 Days of October and the subsequent 31 days of horror films continue with Clown by Jon Watts and starring Andy Powers as a man turning into a clown-like demon and with Laura Allens as his wife trying to save him.

The Plot: A real estate agent, Keny McCoy, shoves on an unusual clown costume at one of his houses up for sale in order to fill in last minute for the clown who couldn't make his son's birthday party. Big mistake. Turns out the "suit" is the skin of an ancient Icelandic demon, the Cloyne, that feeds on children and is slowly taking him over. The only living survivor of the curse and his wife must track him down and find a way to save him before he can eat.

The Good

-Clourophobia is the technical term for fear of clowns. I don't have that. I'm more afraid of men on stilts. I find those bizarre as a thing to use. Anyway, I think it was ssmart for this movie to use so common a fear that hasn't been as overdone as scary animals like snakes and that builds its own demonic mythology fresh from vampires or werewolves.

-The make up effects and practical effects are excellent. Not since contracted have I seen as grusome and well paced physical transformation.

-The pace is excellent. There's not a lot of set up. We start at the child, Jack's birthday party, and Kent's in the suit by about seven minutes in. It keeps up the horror and tension well throughout.

-I care about the characters. I feel for Kent's plight but even more for his wife, Meg, who wants to save her husband and feed him the only cure (hint: the cure's not exactly vegetarian friendly) but also would never want to do anything that horrible. Of course, when their son, Jack's life is in the bargain, tension hits a crescendo as we don't know how far she'll go to trade or to refrain from trading one life for another. I know this was produced by Eli Roth of Hostel fame, but I promise you like Kent, Meg, and Jack and want the family to be happy and normal again.

-the settings. There's an extended sequence in Chuck E. Cheese that takes great advantage of how creepy that place is under the best of circumstances. Let me just say you'll never want in a ball pit again.


The Bad

-I think there's a shift in protagonist from following Kent closely the first hour and switching more focus to his wife as the demon takes over. It's not quite as effective as it could be because I think Meg could have been built up more as a character to start.

-The premise is a bit disturbing and I assume in the back of the writers' minds, they knew the overtones. To see Kent trying to avoid a school bus of children or camping boyscouts brings more than just demons eating kids to mind and something far darker and, unfortunately, very real in our world.

-The child actors. Most of them (with the exception of Colton the bully) aren't good and their line readings can be painful.


The Verdict - B+  for good pacing, an interesting mythology, and a wrenching choice demanded from characters we care about. However, it's a bit flat in the character development and the child actors leave you wanting.

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