Thanks to the recent Ross Noble pile of poo that was Stitches, news of another clown-infused slice of horror cinema filled me with more dread than excitement.

But this effort, directed by Jon Watts and given the ‘Eli Roth presents…’ stamp, promised something different – something darker, and something definitely not played for laughs.

And the good news is it sticks to that formula, allowing Clown to echo more the genuinely-unnerving antics of It back in the day, rather than the recent Noble disaster mentioned above.

The story follows down-on-his-luck family man Kent (Andy Powers), a father trying hard to do the right thing and give his son an upbringing to remember.

So, when estate agent Kent oh-so conveniently stumbles across a clown costume at a house he is putting on the market, just as his wife is being told the clown booked for their son’s birthday party will be a no-show, minutes later the father is back at home, in said suit, putting on an act.

That goes down well, but things take a swift turn for the highly bizarre when, not only does Kent realise he cannot actually take the suit off that evening, but that the wig and red nose seem to have actually moulded to his skin.

Eager to get to the bottom of just what the hell is going on, the husband tracks down a relative of the home owner, played with unhinged relish by Peter Stormare, and suddenly we get talk of clowns as demons, child eating and plenty more sinister mythology.

But is that what is in store for Kent? Can he beat the madness that is slowly consuming him? And is anybody safe, even his own family, around him?

As said right at the outset, this is a Roth joint after all (he also pops up as Frowny the Clown), so we pretty much know things are going to end messily – and the movie certainly delivers on the gore score.

But Clown comes across as much more than simply an effects-fest, and an awful lot of the credit for that has to go to Powers.

As an everyman pushed to (and beyond) breaking point, his is a stunning performance that has a real sense of danger to it – there are plenty of scenes where the film takes a much darker shift than expected, but Powers anchors the film with a sense of twisted reality.

Solid support comes from the likes of Laura Allen as suffering wife Meg, while a series of child actors also deliver the goods.

Director Watts keeps things clicking over at quite a pace, with the film really racing through its 90-odd minute run time to its bloody conclusion.

There is no doubt that Clown could have easily gotten out of hand – and on paper it still seems a totally ludicrous premise – but, played totally straight-faced, and centred on a sympathetic-yet edgy performance from Powers, this really delivers.

DVD Review: Clown
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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.