The reason you’re afraid of clowns…premiering on VOD September 12 from High Octane Pictures, Clowntergeist describes itself as IT meets Poltergeist.
It isn’t quite as good as that sounds but it does a damn good job trying!
Directed by Aaron Mirtes and starring Brittany Belland, Burt Culver, Monica Baker & Eric Corbin, Clowntergeist is a sinister, sometimes creepy but confusing horror movie with an extremely disappointing ending.
Clowntergeist opens with an unknown woman scared for her life. She leaves her home & goes to a family member’s house to hold up. There she gets spooked by a life-size clown doll. Things get even more sinister when she takes a call from the house owner who reveals to her that they don’t have a clown doll. Uh-uh…
It’s a great intro that mixes scares with violence & mystery except for one major problem. The exact same ‘life-size clown doll’ bit was done in 2008’s horror Anthology, Amusement. Specifically, the short called ‘Tabitha’. That may have been a more ‘slow-burner’ of a scare. However, it’s disappointing to see such a lack of originality already.
Thankfully, Clowntergeist puts that behind itself introducing Emma (Bellend) who is a college student with a fear of clowns. The year is over but rather than heading back to her parents she is choosing to stay with her friends. An interesting set of characters well played, their friendship both at home & at work (milkshake/ice-cream store) are very believable.
Unfortunately, the murder of the woman at the start has seen the town locked down with a curfew while the police try to find the killer clown. Then one by one Emma and her friends receive a balloon with a time and date written on it. It’s from the clown & Emma realises that it’s the date & time they will be killed. She must uncover the mystery while fighting against the clock to find a way to survive.
Lashings of gore & a decent amount of tension based scares keeps Clowntergeist ticking along nicely even during some of its many lulls. The lack of rules surrounding the clown makes it a confusing watch though as he constantly attacks, attempts to kill or just turns up time & time again before the actual balloon’s date & time.
A few too many jump scare moments & a horrible ‘villain’ reveal lets down a mostly fun watch. The finale…oh man, it is such a let-down as the villain reveals he set the killer clown onto Emma to try & get her over her fear of clowns. Just…what!? Utterly stupid.
Anyone hoping for a frantic battle between Emma & the clown will be let down as it resorts to a boring cat & mouse approach. While that would be fine in most cases, here it falls flat as it just isn’t a satisfying payoff.
All of that aside, it’s a good modern approach to clown horrors that has some genuinely brilliant moments & exciting scares.