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Clown (2014)

The Weinstein Company
Blu-ray Disc Released: 8/23/2016

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/23/2016

If you were to ask a group of being whether or not they thought clowns are scary, you'd most likely get a diverse amount of responses, despite the apparently commonly held societal belief that clowns are terrifying. For me, it depends on what a clown is doing. Clown at the circus? Not so scary. Clown standing on the edge of the forest, beckoning for children to join him (as has been recently reported occurring in South Carolina)? OK, that's pretty scary. As far as movie clowns, there's no doubt that the clown from Poltergeist and Pennywise from the TV mini-series It are terrifying. Is there room in this pantheon for another scary movie clown? Can the titular character from Clown prove his muster?

It's little Jack's (Christian Distefano) birthday and he's been promised that a clown will appear at this party. However, the clown has cancelled. Jack's father, Kent, a real-estate agent, is prepping an open house when he gets this news. He frantically searches the house, and actually comes across an old clown costume. (What are the odds?) He dons the wig, nose, and costume, and heads home where he's a hit at the party. Afterwards, even with help from his wife, Meg (Laura Allen), Kent is unable to remove the costume. He attempts to go about his day, but he cannot get the thing off. He does some research on the previous owner of the house and tracks down Karlsson (Peter Stormare), who informs him that what Kent has is not a clown costume, but instead a demon which will compel him to eat children. As Kent begins to undergo a hideous transformation, the hunger inside of him starts to grow.

The scariest thing about Clown is that the top of the Blu-ray Disc cover claims "From Master of Terror Eli Roth". Not only has he done nothing to earn a title which comes anywhere close to this, but I guarantee that 90% of the population does not recognize his name. Having this at the top of the cover borders on false-advertising, as Roth only produced the film. Therefore, at the bottom of the cover, we get "Directed by Jon Watts" and on the back is a very prominent "Written by Christopher Ford & Jon Watts", so at least The Weinstein Company is being forthright in that respect. The other reason why Watts name would be prominent is that he's been tapped to direct the forthcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming (which I'm boycotting, but that's a story for another time), so people will be interested in learning more about him. As for Roth, other than helping Watts and Ford get funding for their project and having a cameo in the movie, I'm not sure how he contributed.

The other scariest thing about Clown is that there is a birthday party scene which takes place at what appears to be Chuck E. Cheese...because it is Chuck E. Cheese. I can't believe that this company allowed their logo and likeness to be used in a movie about a clown that eats children. Did no one read the script? Did the crack Chuck E. Cheese legal team (which you know has settled some fecal matter lawsuits) have the day off?

As for the movie itself, Clown is decidedly mediocre. At the outset, I was impressed by the movie, as Kent has the clown suit on in the first five minutes of the film. But, we then realize that this is a one-note story and we sit and wait for something else to happen. Following the opening sequence, the first act drags unbearably, and I clearly remember thinking that the movie had to be close to the end, only to learn that only 35 minutes had gone by. Watts and Ford unnecessarily drag out their wafer-thin premise and the 99-minute running time (which isn't that long in the grand scheme of things) feels incredibly bloated. A lot of this has to do with the fact that there's not much meat on the story's bones. Kent puts on the suit, the suit is a demon, it makes him turn into a monster and want to kill, and that's about it. So we watch scene after scene of Kent slowly transforming and trying not to eat kids. Not much is done to shake up the monotony here.

I suppose that Clown wanted to be the ultimate scary clown movie, but it truly whiffs on this. The initial premise is interesting, but the movie doesn't really go anywhere from there. The only truly clever thing here is that when Kent is injured, the wound results in rainbow colored blood. And the clown demon, while not scary, is interesting, and it was nice to see an actual latex monsters, as opposed to CG. As noted above, Watts is now directing a big-budget tent-pole movie, which may help to explain why Clown, which was shot in 2012, is now being released. If you go in with lowered expectations and the knowledge that this is a pretty bleak film, some may find something to like in Clown, but otherwise, checking under your bed for the clown from Poltergeist is far scarier.

Clown is less scary than Shakes the Clown on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of The Weinstein Company. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no distracting grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good, most notably the rainbow tones. The picture is slightly dark at times and the image has a somewhat flat look to it, most likely a side-effect of the movie's low-budget roots. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.6 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. We get some nice subwoofer "jolts" during the jump scares and the party scenes delivering noticeable surround sound effects. The stereo effects show good separation and a few moments highlight sounds coming from off-screen.

The lone extra on the Clown Blu-ray Disc is a featurette called "Making Clown" (6 minutes). The Main Menu advertises "Featuring Producer Eli Roth" for this extra. Is that really going to get people to watch it? Here we learn that the makers of the film put Roth's name, without his permission, on their fake YouTube trailer for the movie, which lead to Roth producing the film. That's doing much for their credibility. From there, we get comments from various members of the cast and crew, but we do not hear from the writer or director. There are a few scant moments of on-set footage here.

Review Copyright 2016 by Mike Long