Clowns. Why did it have to be clowns? Well, it is because I picked this movie because I have always found clowns to be pretty damned scary. When I visited the Ringling Brothers circus with my folks when it rolled into downtown Baltimore when I was little, I was always pretty excited. I mean they had all sorts of tumbling and flashy stuff going on. They also had lions running around doing what I assumed was normal lion stuff. The lions at the zoo were always just lounging around so I never was super excited by them. Here they were jumping through hoops of flame. The clowns always made me wary. They circulated into the crowd before the show and even as a kid I did not like that attention. Something about them made me nervous. They were fine doing their act in the middle of the ring but if they came near me I squirmed. Now, clowns seem even more out of place to me and even scarier. I am fascinated by them but, thanks to Batman and horror movies, I see them more as cool and creepy villains rather than the joyful creatures they are supposed to be.
I wanted to do a clown movie this year. This is the third year I have done reviews around Halloween and the first year I covered a messed-up film called Clownhouse. So, if I was going to do a clown horror movie, the obvious choice was to do the recent horror movie called Clown. However, that was produced by Eli Roth and he is kind of a cancer on the horror genre so I did not want to have a bad time. Instead, I wanted to review the movie Killjoy from Full Moon Pictures. It turns out my brand new copy of all of the Killjoy movies (and all of the Puppetmaster movies) got lost in the mail so it will have to wait until next year. Do not worry, I will be discussing some Full Moon Pictures movies later this month. So, I went back to the drawing board and found this movie on Netflix. I was sure that it was not going to be hard to find another clown horror movie I had not seen yet and the internet does not disappoint. So, we get a more recent horror film that hopefully will fill my nightmares with clowns once again. At least they are better than the than the nightmares about high school.
I was not expecting what this movie would be at all. The first thing that I did not expect is that it is Irish and filmed in Ireland. One of the things I love about Netflix and about this project is that it has opened me up to new opportunities in foreign films. That means that there was almost automatically nobody in this film I would recognize and ends up being the case. This is great because I love diving into a movie full of unknowns so I can go in with no pre-conceived notions. The actors in this movie are all pretty young, especially since most of them are supposed to portray sixteen-year-olds. This is perfect because teenagers are one of the preferred demographics for supernatural killers in horror movies. The acting was good in kind of a punk rock, All Cheerleaders Must Die kind of way. They end up portraying high school as I remember it, petty and emotional but mostly harmless in the end.
When I read the description, I was prepared for a clown that comes back from the dead to kill the kids at the birthday party where he accidentally died. At best, I was hoping for a ghost clown that would haunt them or an undead clown who would savagely murder them. What I got was something somewhere between those two options. It was like Pennywise the Clown if Tim Curry had been directed to be scary. Another comparison I could make is Freddy Krueger if he had been a party clown instead of a Christmas sweater-wearing janitor and was a little more literal. I was not ready for the movie to have so much lore and world-building when it comes to clowns. The movie creates this whole weird occult conspiracy in the first few minutes that I could never have expected in my wildest dreams. The movie used elements from a lot of horror movies I have seen to create something entirely new and scary. The way the villain moves and the unique and terrible deaths they concocted for him are definitely very memorable as well. Most of his victims were decent people for teens and definitely did not deserve to die.
Overall, this was a dark horse of a horror movie just like Horns and The Babadook from last year. This is especially funny since the movie was originally supposed to star Daniel Radcliffe right after Deathly Hallows. The movie is definitely pretty scary but it has kind of a punk rock sense of humor to it as well. That punk rock quality also extends to the violence, though. This movie does not pull any punches with how cruel the deaths are. The practical effects and other special effects are exceptional and that means that the gore is very graphic and disgusting but in a good way. At one point, Stitches delivers a tagline of ‘This Clown Isn’t Funny’ and he’s right. However, he is kind of funny in an extremely dark, offbeat kind of way because he is just amusing himself. In that way, he would probably get along with Charles “Chucky” Lee Ray. It was a great movie and I definitely knew how much it had gripped me when I had to watch something happier directly after so I could breathe again. With all the clown sightings lately, I definitely enjoyed being scared by one that could not actually hurt me. I definitely recommend it.