CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS
Clowns are wrong. There's just something indefinably sinister about them: it's not just that they're not funny (were they ever?), but they're obviously creepy and unsettling and up to no good, yet we're supposed to like them and laugh at them. Once you're an adult, that's pretty much impossible. So you'd think a clown would surely be a natural horror movie bogeyman, yet they actually come along quite rarely, certainly in comparison to such old warhorses as vampires and werewolves. The last horror movie to come out that featured clowns was the tiresome Irish splatter comedy Stitches, and even if you're not an avowed coulrophobe this is a thousand times better, which frankly isn't difficult.
Clown has a wonderfully simple setup in which estate agent Kent (Andy Powers) saves his son's tenth birthday party when the booked clown cancels at the last minute: he chances upon a clown suit in the house he's renovating and does the performance himself. But once the show's over, he suddenly realises he can't get the wig, costume or makeup off. Because it's not just a tatty old clown suit, it's a demon skin that's transforming him into the mythical beast of ancient folklore from which the idea of clowning has descended through the centuries. And that beast can only be sated with five victims....
It's actually a lot better than you'd expect given that it's derived from a fake pseudo-Grindhouse trailer, but apparently Eli Roth liked it enough to get it made and he even stars as the evil clown once Kent has fully transformed. The always watchable Peter Stormare turns up in one of his bonkers supporting turns as the previous suit owner's brother who knows the only way to break the curse, but the trouble is it rather means the film can only end one way, which it ultimately does. Still, it's all enjoyably nasty - perhaps too nasty in places as it's somehow always felt wrong to kill off children in horror movies. I know they haven't done any more or less to deserve a bloody death than half the victims in an Elm Street or Friday The Thirteenth, say (or indeed the Kintner boy in Jaws), but it doesn't seem entirely right or fair to bump off kids, even when they're obnoxious bullies like one of them here.
The big selling-point name on the posters is Eli Roth even though for this movie he's just an actor and producer and has neither written nor directed it. But he's probably the biggest recognisable name associated with it and that's what sells, more than "A Jon Watts Film" and "From the writer of Robot And Frank". A pity, because Clown is certainly good enough to stand on its own: agreeably nasty fun which I had more than enough dark fun with. Worth a watch for a Friday night.