CLOWNTERGEIST ** U.S.A. 2017 Dir: Aaron Mirtes. 80 mins
We can probably expect a mini clown-movie cycle with the theatrical incarnation of Stephen King’s IT imminent, and we can probably expect the post-SHARKNADO bandwagon of gimmicky, nonsensical titles to continue for some time yet. Presumably, alternatives considered during post-production included THE CLOWNJURING, CLOWNSIDIOUS and PARACLOWNAL ACTIVITY. This film opens well, with an effectively creepy prologue built on a familiar but potent scare: a coulrophobic girl alone in a creepy house has a phone conversation with the owner that ends with the deeply disquieting confirmation “We don’t have a clown statue in the living room…”
Her murder triggers a small-town curfew while another clown-fearing student is imperilled by “Ribcage”, a demon-possessed, wheezing clown with an elderly master. There are mild frissons of creepiness throughout CLOWNTERGEIST – including a re-enactment of the old “Humans can lick too” urban legend – but it makes the fatal mistake of over-exposing its antagonist. Ribcage’s backstory is absurd (“A paranormal shitstorm”) and there’s nothing frightening about a clown in a daylight kitchen scene being poked with a broom by our heroes and sicking up black goo. It’s an awkward hybrid of clown-slasher and supernatural horror, with feeble terrorisation via balloons and live radio.
Review by Steven West