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Dark Sky Films
Blu-ray Disc Released: 4/2/2013
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/11/2013
One of the very first movies reviewed here at DVDSleuth.com wasDead Clowns, which mixed the plot from The Fog with zombies clowns (and is nowhere near as good as it sounds). I bring up this mostly forgettable film to illustrate the point that zombie clowns have appeared on-film before. That knowledge takes much of the air out of Stitches, a movie which wants us to find its zombie clown idea fresh. The fact that the movie isn't very good does the rest.
Stitches opens with the birthday party of young Tom at which, Stitches (Ross Noble), the titular clown, will be performing. Stitches, who was drunk upon arrival, isn't very good and the children taunt him and even go as far as tying his shoe strings together. This causes Stitches to fall forward, landing on a knife, which penetrates his skull and kills him.
The story then leaps ahead six years. Tom (Tommy Knight) is still traumatized by the incidents and imagines that he sees clowns everywhere. It's his birthday again, and as his mother is going out of town for a business trip, he decides to have a few friends over to keep him company. What begins as Vinny (Shane Murray Corcoran), Bulger (Thomas Kane Byrne), and Richie (Eoghan McQuinn), soon grows into a full-fledged party, as many more people show up, including the cruel couple, Sarah (Roisin Barron) and Paul (Hugh Mulhern) -- who is dressed as a clown. Tommy is excited to see Kate (Gemma Leah Devereux) arrives, as he has a crush on her, but he can't get her away from Dan (Tommy Cullen). However, Tommy's concerns over parties and crushes soon evaporates, as Stitches rises from his grave and begins to exact his revenge on the children who were at that party so many years ago. As the bodies begin to pile up, Tommy must find a way to overcome his coulrophobia and stop Stitches.
Stitches is the perfect example of a movie which never moves beyond its core concept. Co-Writers Conor McMahon (who also directed) and David O'Brien apparently came up with the idea of a deceased clown who comes back from the dead and attacks a birthday party and decided that this was all that they needed. While one could argue that the movie doesn't beat around the bush by having Stitches die in the first few minutes, it doesn't give us enough time to get to know him. We see that he's misogynist who drinks and isn't the world's greatest party clown, but was he evil? Being a shitty clown doesn't mean that you're pre-destined to be a hate-filled zombie. So, when Stitches is resurrected to get back at the kids, we know the motivating factors, but not why he's doing it. The characters are all stereotypes (goofy guy, effeminate guy, bad girls, etc.) and the movie makes no attempts to movie beyond this. Even Tommy, our central character, is simply the kid whoís afraid of clowns. The only part of the story which even comes close to being interesting concerns the fact that every clown has an egg which represents them. I didnít understand this, but at least Iíd never seen it in a movie before.
The other major issue with Stitches is the filmís tone. It wants to be a gory comedy. Well, it certainly gets the gore part right, as there are some very bloody scenes here and while they are shocking, given the overall light tone of the movie, itís often surprising how far these scenes go. The comedy part is supposed to come from Stitchesí behavior, his one-liners, and the fact that he murders everyone in some clown-related fashion. Hereís the bad news -- none of this is even remotely funny. Some of it may border on clever, but the movie wants us to find it hilarious and it isnít. Iím all far dark humor, but the jokes here simply miss the mark.
One the extra features presented here, Co-Writer/Director Conor McMahon admits an affinity for movies like Evil Dead 2 and Bad Taste, and itís clear that heís going for the same vibe here. Unfortunately, the movie misses the mark, as itís never funny, nor is it ever creepy. What we get is essentially Freddy Krueger in a clown suit (Noble admits to this in the extras) and a lot of gore surrounding by faceless characters. I truly think that the world is ready for a good zombie clown movie, but Stitches is not it.
Stitches made me question how so many clowns could find work in a small Irish town on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Dark Sky Films. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at 25 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no distracting grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look very good, they are realistic without being bright and garish. The red blood really stands out. The image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good, most notably in the closeups of Stitches and the depth is what weíd expect from a new movie on Blu-ray Disc. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. (Although, some of the accents are a bit thick at times.) The stereo and surround sound effects are used quite well here to create a sense of space and give us clues which something is happening off-screen or someone is being stalked. These effects arenít overly detailed, but the separation is good and they serve their purpose. The attack scenes provide notable subwoofer effects, but they donít create any real rumble.
The Stitches Blu-ray Disc contains a few extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Writer/Director Conor McMahon and Ross Noble. "The Making of Stitches" (20 minutes) contains a nice amount of comments from McMahon and the cast. They discuss their views on horror films and the film's story. Noble talks about how his natural abilities lead him to play Stitches. The cast members each discuss their individual characters and then each of the film's major, over-the-top death scenes is examined. This leads to a look at the special effects makeup. The piece contains a nice amount of on-set footage. The Disc includes a 4-minute reel of BLOOPERS. The final extra is a TRAILER for the film.
Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.