The horror genre is filled with movies about clowns. From demonic clowns to slasher clowns to alien clowns, there’s not many aspects of this category that have not been fleshed out in some form or fashion. Some of these films are classics, such as KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE, however many of them are just rehashes of the same tropes we’ve seen over and over. And while this is not always a bad thing, the concept can be driven into absurdity.
CLOWNTOWN, a recent offering from ITN Distribution, is an interesting subject because it is fun and entertaining, yet it brings nothing new to the table in terms of originality. And while we’ve been down this road before, the film still has merit for entertainment value. So even though I personally enjoyed this title, I imagine this will be one you’ll have to see (and judge) for yourself.
If you are not familiar with CLOWNTOWN, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of
A group of friends get stranded in a seemingly abandoned town and find themselves stalked by a violent gang of psychopaths dressed as clowns.
Reusing existing concepts in horror is certainly not a new idea, nor has it been for decades. Many successful and fan-favorite films are simply remakes or reboots of existing franchises. But if a relative newcomer to the genre is going to venture into well-traveled territory, their success will depend on how entertaining the result is deemed.
CLOWNTOWN is shot fairly well for a low-budget picture and looks pretty good onscreen. I have to give a particular nod to the production team on their use of lighting. Many minimally funded pictures usually suffer in the lighting and sound departments because the budget is spent on acting talent or special effects. Interestingly, the opposite is true here. While the lighting looks great, the acting is mediocre and the special effects are just decent.
Speaking of acting, I could not find a single standout performance from anybody in the cast. Granted, they all do a decent job…but this film certainly cannot boast the emergence of any new “scream queens” or action stars. I did, however, enjoy the performance given by David Greathouse who plays the Baseball Clown. Greathouse is absolutely chilling when he is onscreen, and he’s a definite asset to the film.
Also, as mentioned above, the special effects are ok. I would have preferred much more gore in a slasher like this, however I certainly understand how budget restrictions can reduce the amount of carnage seen onscreen. The little gore we do get is pretty good, however nothing to write home about.
As for the story in CLOWNTOWN, it is the teens-getting-chased-by-maniacs concept rewarmed yet again. But even so, the film is still fun. Director Tom Nagel does a good job of building tension, and his well-placed jump-scares made me smile a couple of times. Add in a nifty ending (I love the final scene), and the Good slightly outweighs the Bad here. The resulting film is one you’ve seen many, many times before, but it still offers a good time.
Despite its shortcomings, I do recommend CLOWNTOWN, but only to those hardcore fans of the horror genre. If you thrive on originality, then steer clear of this one, as you will be disappointed. Otherwise, grab some popcorn and some makeup remover, and dig in.
CLOWNTOWN hits select theaters this Friday, September 30, and will be available next week on VOD and DVD.