They say all good things must come to an end.

If that truly is the case, then I suppose after sitting through a series of actually-quite-enjoyable DVD offerings, sooner or later a dud was going to fall into my lap.

That turns out to be Stitches, a woeful ‘horror-comedy’ that, while having its moments, is best left untouched.

The plot is lifted straight out of the 80s slasher manual – a prank goes wrong, kills an unfortunate victim, who then somehow comes back for revenge and picks off those that caused his demise.

At least Stitches offers something slightly different on that formula as the central character, Richard ‘Stitches’ Grindle, is a beer-swilling, foul-mouthed clown/party entertainer.

Our first sight of Grindle (and indeed the first shot of the film) is of him shagging someone up the arse, before climbing in his car and racing off to a kid’s birthday party.

Wouldn’t you know, these kids turn out to be a pretty annoying bunch of brats, who think it would be tremendously funny to tie Grindle’s laces together and then give him a fright.Stitches-Blu-ray-Cover1

Hilarious I hear you say, except for the fact that Grindle totters backwards and manages to land on a conveniently upturned kitchen knife, piercing his skull and bringing forward his clownish antics to an abrupt end.

We then fast-forward six years, with the brats now fully-fledged annoying teens, but their lives take a sinister turn when a coven of evil clowns (yep, you read that right), enact some sort of graveyard ritual and Stitches is suddenly brought back to life – thirsty for revenge.

What follows is the usual stalk-and-slash routine, with the teens being picked off one-by-one by the resurrected clown in ever-more outlandish methods.

It all builds to a showdown between Stitches and head boy Tom (played by Tommy Knight), where I’m pretty sure we all know who will come out on top.

Stand-up comedian Ross Noble takes on the role of Stitches and to be fair, in his skewed clown make-up he certainly looks the part.

But he also gives off an air of tired exasperation throughout, with his handful of corny one-liners seemingly forced through gritted teeth.

The rest of the cast fare little better, due to a combination of poor acting and slack writing.

The kids are incredibly, and I mean incredibly, annoying – which is fine for the handful of knife-fodder you want to see carved up on screen, but when it is every single one of them, then you have a problem.

There is quite simply no one to root for – or that was how I felt anyway.

If there is a selling point for Stitches, it is the wildly over-the-top gore that punctuates the film throughout – scalps are torn off, intestines are ripped out, eyeballs are pierced – all in loving, blood-smeared close-up.

But in a strange way that close-up element works against the film, as some of the effects do look pretty ropy when lingered on for so long – one victim staggering away with what looks like a string of sausages in his arms for example.

Anyone that knows me, or that has read any of my previous musings, knows just how much I love slasher flicks, or for that matter horror-comedies (if done well).

But if the horror doesn’t work, or the comedy fails to provide any laughs, then a project is pretty much dead in the water.

Sad to say, but Stitches nails all of the above.

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.