REVIEW: Clowntown (2016)

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2016, Millman Productions/Zorya Films/CT Films Ltd.

Director:
Tom Nagel
Producers:
Christopher Lawrence Chapman
Jeff Miller
Tom Nagel
Brian Nagel
Writer:
Jeff Miller
Cinematography:
Ken Stachnik
Editing:
Tom Nagel

Cast:
Brian Nagel (Brad)
Lauren Elise (Sarah)
Andrew Staton (Mike)
Katie Keene (Jill)
Jeff Denton (Dylan)
Greg Violand (Frank)
Tom Nagel (Billy)
Maryann Nagel (Myrtha)
Kaitlynn Sapp (Jamie)
David H. Greathouse (Baseball Clown)
Chris Hahn (Machete Clown)
Ryan Pilz (Crowbar Clown)
Beki Ingram (Girl Clown)
Alan Tuskes (Axe Clown)
Christopher Lawrence Chapman (Sheriff)

The clowns are coming out to play in this throwback to slasher films with an all too obvious reference to a classic horror tale.

Fifteen years ago, a babysitter met her fate at the Strode household in Clinton, Ohio on the same day a terrible train accident forced many of its inhabitants to eventually leave town. Fast forward to the present day. Two couples, Brad and Sarah and Mike and Jill are heading to a concert in Columbus. However, they’ve gotten lost and ask for directions at a nearby diner. The local sheriff gives them directions to drive through the small towns but with caution.

En route to Columbus, Jill realizes she has left her phone at the diner. When Sarah calls Jill’s phone, a voice tells Sarah to go to the nearest town and they will meet there to return the phone. Little does this group know that they will be going to Clinton. Waiting for this mysterious person, the group wanders around but when they attempt to leave after waiting for too long, the wires in the car have been cut. The group soon finds themselves stalked by a vicious gang of psychopaths dressed up as clowns. As they try to escape, they soon discover a horrifying secret about this town and their local killing crew.

A lot can be said about independent films. There are times when the crew can double for cast members and that could be both good and bad, depending on the film that is being made. In the case of this film, writer Jeff Miller has come up with a very interesting story that under the direction and editing of Tom Nagel, is actually quite a welcome throwback to the slasher genre of old with references to John Carpenter’s classic Halloween.

The cast of potential victims are actually pretty good in their roles. Thankfully, with the film’s set in a virtually abandoned town, there’s no time or chance for some of the cliches of slasher films, instead bringing more of a style akin to psychological mind games as well as some of the typical styles of killing. What may be even more amazing is that the clown gang are made up of a former professional wrestler (90’s WWE star Chris Hahn), the film’s production designer, and three special effects make up artists, in which two of them worked on the effects of this film.

The clowns are the highlight of the film not only because they are the killers, but with the exception of Beki Ingram’s Girl Clown, the clowns do not speak one word. They let their actions do the talking. However, David H. Greathouse’s Baseball Clown is truly pure evil and is clearly the leader of the group, always having a sadistic looking smile that will definitely scare the bejesus out of you. Chris Hahn’s Machete Clown is the muscle of the group while Ryan Pilz’s Machete Clown and Alan Tuskes’ Axe Clown provide ample support as the remaining members of this deadly gang.

Clowntown is a terrifying film that for a film with cast members doubling as crew, is quite well made. The clowns are pretty insane here and do not need to talk as they let their killing do the talking for them. Definitely worth a look for horror fans because it is better than expected.

WFG RATING: B

This film will be released in a limited theatrical release on September 30, followed by a DVD and VOD release on October 4.

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