ClownTown, a new horror film from ITN Distribition, hits a little close to home these days, what with the rash of creepy ass clown sightings happening around the US this Halloween season. The story of a group of friends that end up stranded in a deserted town run by a “family” of insane, violent, lunatics dressed up as clowns, is both intriguing and slightly cliché.
The movie starts out with an homage to one of the best horror films ever made, Halloween. The very first shot is of a mailbox with the name Strode on it. And for any horror trivia buff, like myself, you’d know that that was the name of Jamie Lee Curtis’s character in that fabulous 1978 film – Laurie Strode.
And the move also begins with one of the most clichéd opening scenes in horror history: the baby sitter alone with children, in a house filled with all manner of clown paraphernalia, from figurines to tablecloths. After putting said children to bed, we get the unnecessary, but seemingly unavoidable gratuitous tit shot as the baby sitter changes her clothes. Now, as with all formulaic horror, sex, or sexuality means your going to die. And, just like that, we see the baby sitter brutally, if not sloppily, murdered, by whom we assume is the weird young boy wearing a clown outfit (again a hat tip to Halloween and the costume worn by Michael Myers). The effects for the first murder were less than epic. While I appreciated the homage to Halloween, I did not have high hopes for this movie.
We jump ahead fifteen years, and my hopes for a better film did not get better. We have two random guys eating at a diner, with no clue was to why they are there or who they are. Enter the four main characters, on their way to a concert in Columbus, Ohio, and they’ve gotten lost. Big shocker. A creepy bald guy hits on one of the girls, the big chested one, of course.
Said creepy bald guy ends up with a crowbar in his neck. Another really badly done clown murder.
After that, we find out that one of the girls left their cell phone at the restaurant. So, they call the lost phone, and a random guy answers the phone. Yeah, random dude answers the lost phone and wants to meet you at a random location? That is just a whole bunch of nope.
And why would you trust them, exactly? Why would you wait until dark to leave? I’m so not buying it.
However, despite these glaring plot issues, the horror element did pick up once people of import started getting killed and captured. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to keep me from playing Candy Crush on my phone, during the rest of the movie.
Part of the reason why is that even though the horror got better, there were still so many questions about motive and background that nagged at me the entire time. Yes, I know the kids were inundated with clowns growing up. Yes, their baby sitter was murdered, and it was alluded to that the previous babysitter was also murdered. But was that enough to drive an entire town to let psychopath clowns rule? I just don’t buy the plausibility.
CAST: Brian Nagel, Lauren Elise, Andrew Staton, Katie Keene, Jeff Denton
SYNOPSIS: A group of friends get stranded in a seemingly abandoned town and find themselves stalked by a gang of violent psychopaths dressed as clowns.
IN THEATERS: September 30, 2016
VIDEO ON DEMAND: October 4, 2016
DIRECTOR: Tom Nagel
WRITER: Jeff Miller