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Clowntergeist (2017) Review

Clown horror about a monster in the dark looking for victims.

Clowntergeist is a 2017 horror film about a college student with a crippling fear of clowns, who must come face to face with her worst fear when an evil spirit in the body of a clown is summoned.

No one can say the movie industry hasn’t done its part in making clowns objectively the most terrifying thing on the planet. Time and time again, they are source for all kinds of bloody mischief and seem in endless supply. As interest rises with the remake of Stephen King‘s IT, it’s time again for a new crop of killer clowns. Up next, is Aaron Mirtes‘ sinisterly titled Clowntergeist, a horror film that goes out of its way to keep clowns on your list of things to never see again.

After a brief murderous clowny intro, we meet a pair of college girls named Emma (Brittany Belland) and Heather (Monica Baker) working at a local ice cream shop along with their pal and co-worker Jonah (Sean Patrick Murray) and kindly old manager Pops (Tom Seidman). The place gets shut down when the sheriff comes by to inform them a manhunt is on and a curfew is in place after a girl has been killed. The victim’s father Ken (Burt Culver) is convinced the murderer is a clown called Ribcage, he being taunted by red balloons with blood letter messages foreshadowing his coming. Overwhelmed by her own fear of clowns, Emma becomes terrorized by the same red balloons and looks to Ken for help.

The start of Clowntergeist does more than set a tone for the film but revisits a number of well-worn horror tropes that lay the groundwork for the rest of the movie. A breaker pops and a trip to the dark basement sends a young woman to the shadows, and from there plenty of jump scares lead up to the eventual death stroke. It’s all very familiar but at least it embraces the clichés with some major gusto. It’s your standard monster in the dark story only the monster is dressed as a party clown and Mirtes throws everything can at us to make it scary, the balloons a nice touch in giving it some personality, they seemingly a kind of portal in which Ribcage can zip about. That’s new.

Clowntergeist
Clowntergeist, 2017 © High Octane Pictures

Naturally, there’s not a thing about Clowntergeist that rings true with only Emma showing the slightest bit of common sense when she realizes she’s being hunted and announces she’s leaving town. Of course, for the sake of the movie, her friends don’t seem as put off by the horror, despite being witness to it and keep her in place. The movie insists on running through the gamut of has-beens, with nary an original scare in the whole movie, the filmmakers more interested in playing into color-by-numbers frights from hands reaching of the dark to a pounding musical score (by Kris Bendrick). It’s a formula that has worked for decades and by default does here as well. There’s a sort of clever twist in the third act that isn’t too hard to see coming, even if it offers some interesting, if not narrow, avenues. These kinds of movies work because they poke at our baser impulses.

That said, this isn’t meant to be taken seriously and every action is designed to keep the simple plot on its tracks and dole out as many jump scares as possible. Ribcage being a clown has really no bearing on the story, as that’s a thread scarcely explored, with Emma given the ‘fear’ with no context or backstory. This is a film with a very particular audience in mind and for those afraid of clowns, sure, this isn’t going to change a thing. It’s just too bad something a little more innovative couldn’t be done with the genre. Nonetheless, Clowntergeist has its moments and once accepting of the absurdity, succeeds in being a fun, bloody, B-grade horror movie.

Clowntergeist releases on September 12.

Clowntergeist (2017) Review

Movie description: Clowntergeist is a 2017 horror film about a college student with a crippling fear of clowns, who must come face to face with her worst fear when an evil spirit in the body of a clown is summoned.

Director(s): Aaron Mirtes

Actor(s): Brittany Belland, Monica Baker, Aaron Mirtes

Genre: Horror

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