31 Days of Halloween — Day 7: Clown (2014) — by Dr. Shock

Clown 2014

Editor’s note: Dave “Dr. Shock” Becker is a host on Horror Movie Podcast and the Land of the Creeps horror podcast. He is also the mastermind behind DVDInfatuation.com, a movie review blog where he is watching and posting one review every day until he reaches at least 2,500 movie reviews. Follow Doc on Twitter: @DVDinfatuation.

Before it was a movie, “Clown” was a mock trailer created by first-time director Jon Watts, who had some fun with it by claiming the phony film was “produced by horror master Eli Roth.” Calling it a “ballsy” move, Roth (who had never met Watts) decided to actually get involved (as producer), giving the young filmmaker a chance to turn his short into a feature-length motion picture.

And as killer clown movies go, this one’s a doozy!

When the clown hired to perform at his son Jack’s (Christian Distefano) birthday party cancels at the last minute, real estate agent Kent McCoy (Andy Powers) takes matters into his own hands by donning a clown suit he found in the basement of one of the houses he’s trying to unload. Calling himself “Dummo the Clown,” Kent spends the afternoon entertaining Jack and his friends, but when the time comes for him to remove the suit, he finds he’s unable to do so. Aided by his wife Meg (Laura Allen), Kent tries desperately to shed the clown costume, but to no avail.

Anxious to find out what’s going on, Kent contacts Herbert Karlsson (Peter Stormare), whose late brother owned the house in which he found the clown suit. But according to Karlsson, it isn’t a suit at all: it’s the skin of an ancient demon from Northern Europe known as the “Cloyne.” Legend has it that the Cloyne was an evil entity who, to satisfy his hunger, devoured five children every year. Now that he’s put the skin on, Kent is becoming the Cloyne, and the only way he can rid himself of this malevolent spirit is to kill five kids and eat their remains. Will Kent resort to murder, or will he instead take Karlsson’s advice and commit suicide before it’s too late?

Eli Roth is no stranger to mock trailers; he directed the entertaining “Thanksgiving” promo for the Tarantino / Rodriguez mash-up, “Grindhouse,” one of several fake trailers that played during that 2007 movie. Much to my chagrin, “Thanksgiving,” a loving tribute to ‘80s slasher flicks, has yet to be expanded into a feature film, but over the years a few mock trailers have made the transition from fantasy to reality, including “Hobo With a Shotgun” and “Machete,” both of which were as over-the-top as their uber-violent “trailers.” “Clown” is different in that it’s more serious-minded. Sure, it has its comedic moments (especially early on, when Kent realizes he can’t get the suit off, and has to walk around in public wearing it), but it tempers the laughs with some genuinely chilling scenes (the last 20-30 minutes of “Clown” are pretty intense). While its story would have easily lent itself to a flamboyant interpretation, Watts opted to keep things more focused, and the resulting movie was all the better for it.

In addition, “Clown” features a strong performance by Andy Powers as the loving father who accidentally awakens a demon from its slumber. From the moment we meet him, we like Kent, and while he’s clearly not respected by his father-in-law, Walt (Chuck Shamata), or other members of Meg’s family (who criticize his every move, treating Kent as if he were … dare I say … a clown), he is a good husband and father, willing to do whatever is necessary to make his wife and son happy. But as the demon emerges, Kent transforms before our eyes into a creature capable of doing terrible things. Kent tries his damnedest to resist these urges, and later on, when the Cloyne has taken full control of him, we sense there’s still a bit of the old Kent left inside, fighting to break free. As a result, we’re never quite sure what’s going to happen from scene to scene, and it’s to Powers’ credit that the everyman Kent is as formidable a personality as the centuries-old evil that possesses him.

This, combined with a solid supporting cast and some very disturbing sequences (you may never look at Chuck E. Cheese’s the same way again), helped make this 2014 film one of the best clown-themed horror movies I’ve ever seen.

— Dr. Shock

Links for Dr. Shock:
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Dr. Shock also appears on this horror podcast: Land of the Creeps

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7 thoughts on “31 Days of Halloween — Day 7: Clown (2014) — by Dr. Shock


    Day 07 – Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

    Prior to my first time watch of 78’s Invasion, my history with Invasion of the Body Snatchers was rather brief. Years ago, I was so excited when I learned that the original 1956 Invasion would be airing on some movie channel and I was finally going to be able to watch this classic horror. Unfortunately, I could not have been more bored and even caught myself nodding off near the end. The original Invasion was ruled a dud and in the 10+ years since I saw it, I never bothered to give it another chance nor did I attempt to give the remake a chance either. My other familiarity with Invasion was the iconic image of Donald Sutherland reacting strong to whatever he’s looking at. The image gets passed around so much that I’m sure it goes beyond just being a classic horror image and is now possibly a meme. The funny thing is that not only did I not know the context to Sutherland’s over the top reaction, but until recently, I didn’t even know what movie the image was from.

    As it turns out, I’m glad I listened to a recommendation from a friend and gave 1978’s Invasion a chance. Not only is it a quality film, but I actually managed to stay away. Take that, 1956’s Invasion! Ultimately, I feel as if there’s two key strengths to the film that carries it. For one, it’s the mystery of it all. Particularly in the first half, the viewer isn’t even certain if something is actually going on or if it’s all just one giant case of mass hysteria. That’s what makes a general plot of groups of people believing that their loved one is not the same as they used to be. Everyone that came forward and expressed that fear struggled to explain what they meant. Even when they were able to express it enough for the person they’re telling it to to somewhat understand, it sounds like insanity or it’s a different issue altogether. Putting myself in the shoes of the characters dealing with this fear, the sense of frustration would have to be overwhelming.

    The other key strength is the paranoia of it all. As the film goes on, the paranoia grows and grows to the point where you literally can’t trust anyone. Early on in the film, the paranoia is only at the level where you’re concerned that…something is off with your loved one. From there it escalated into severe distrust of them. It becomes far worse when now the fear is that anyone on the street could be just like your loved one that isn’t your loved one. Who do you trust and for how long can you trust them? There’s a couple of great moments near the end where Donald Sutherland’s character of Matthew can no longer trust even those that were a part of his paranoid band of misfits.

    While we don’t see it often, the best horror moments of the movie came whenever we saw the pod people. It’s very creepy and the fact that it’s out in the open without the intended victim realizing made it all the more unsettling. It’s almost a shame that the “Birthing” scenes of the pod people were shown so rarely. Much like his performance in Don’t Look Now, Sutherland excelled as the protagonist that is naturally pretty likable. It’s to Sutherland’s credit that he made that Matthew character likable when throughout the first quarter of the film, he’s doing a rather poor job at drooling over his best friend, Elizabeth, despite the fact that she was in a live-in relationship. Matthew comes across as a bit shady with his behavior around Elizabeth, but you just can’t hate the guy. The final scene of the film is simply phenomenal. It’s all about the mystery of what’s happening while the viewer is on the edge of their seats, constantly worried that Matthew will be caught. As I said at the start of the review, the final visual of the film is iconic and now knowing what Matthew’s reaction is about, it’s one of the best endings I can remember from a horror film.

    Since Invasion is a 70’s film, it is a little slow at points. I wouldn’t exactly say it’s slow enough that it drags the film down, but I also would encourage anyone who hasn’t watched the film, to watch it when they’re fully awake. It’s a little questionable as to whether Nancy could have survived for as long as she did in the midst of all of the pod people simply by not showing any emotion. Speaking of being forced not to show any emotion, the film dropped the ball on an interesting development when Elizabeth injured her ankle, making it a difficult task to hide that pain from the others, yet that never becomes an issue. It was a great chance to create a dramatic scene and there wasn’t any attempt to even go with it.

    Overall, 1978’s Invasion fixes my previous damaged opinion on the name of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Despite being slow going, Invasion is an interesting tale of constant paranoia with a few interesting special effects added in for extra measure. If you’re a fan of the 70’s style of slow pace horror, 78’s Invasion is a must watch especially with it’s amazing ending.

    Rating: 8/10

      • I’m not someone who naturally gravitates towards the 70’s horror (Of the non-slasher variety), but the fact that I did enjoy Invasion as much as I did should be a good sign for you. It’s well worth watching at least once.

  2. Day 7: Darling (2016)

    Rating: 8/10 (high priority rental)

    Note: I would call this a must see, but if you’re averse to art house films then Darling might not be for you.

    — — — — — Contains spoilers — — — — —

    What I liked:
    – This is a different kind of supernatural story, one that deals with the psychological fallout of someone exposed to supernatural forces; a supernatural story that even JOTD would like.
    – This is a very simple story with little dialogue, few actors and almost no special effects; it builds tension mostly by using a combination of creepy themes, interesting cinematography and sharp sound design.
    – The cinematography, from the beautiful black and white, to the shots that linger for just a bit longer than you’d expect, to the fade in/out of focus and light flickers.
    – The soundtrack bouncing back and forth between old timey, sweet songs to hard-hitting death metal is not only awesome, but perfectly mirrors the juxtaposition between the quietness of Darling’s demeanor and her eventual battle with sanity (and her extreme actions).
    – How the film builds on itself with every passing chapter.
    – There are many wtf?! moments throughout that had me physically smiling.
    – The ever-present “tick-tock” of the main floor clock kept me on edge from the opening scene.
    – The style and typography used throughout the film was gorgeous.

    What I didn’t like:
    – The film employs an orgy of jump scares in various forms, from smash cuts to disturbing images, to sudden and loud noises.

  3. Day 7: 30 Days of Night (2007)
    Rating: 8/10

    I’ve had this on my list since HMP covered it in the feral vampires episode. As the town of Barrow, Alaska gets ready for 30 days without sun, a group of vampires prepare for 30 days of feasting on the townspeople. This film has great acting and great vampire stuff. 113 minutes go by quickly.

  4. Day 7 – Night Gallery Pilot Episode

    I’ll forgot any review here as you can hear it on episode 99, and read my addendum in the comments.
    The Cemetery 8/10
    Eyes 8/10
    The Escape Route 6.5/10

    Composite – 7.5

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