08th Sep2017

‘Clowntergeist’ VOD Review

by Philip Rogers

Stars: Brittany Belland, Monica Baker, Aaron Mirtes, Madeleine Heil, Eric Corbin, Burt Culver, Tom Seidman, Johnjay Fitih, Sean Patrick Murray | Written and Directed by Aaron Mirtes

Clowntergeist-Key-Art

You never know what you are going to get when you take a chance with a low budget movie, but with a title like Clowntergeist there is a good chance that this would be anything but boring…

Emma (Brittany Belland) is a college student who suffers from coulrophobia (fear of clowns) to the extent that even a clown picture on a T-shirt or a clown themed ice lolly in the ice cream shop which she works, strikes fear into her. If suffering mercilessly with a crippling fear of clowns wasn’t bad enough, things soon get worse when she realises that a possessed killer called Ribcage the Clown is on a killing spree throughout the town.

The killer delivers a red balloon to his potential victims, which has a date and time of when they are going die – although it doesn’t end here,  as he continues to torment his victims whilst he is waiting for the final moment to arrive. When Emma receives a blooded balloon following a visit from the clown, she soon realises that she only has days to survive, but to come out alive she must face her biggest fear.

A title like Clowntergeist gives you an indication of what sort of film to expect, successfully delivering on the titles promise for most of the film, which incorporates a mixture of jump scares, dark humour and plenty of gore.

Clowntergeist gives us the latest carnation of the popular killer clown with Ribcage the Clown. A possessed demonic clown, who physical abilities and love for red balloons are not dissimilar to Pennywise from Stephen King’s IT. Ribcage however (unlike Pennywise is not known for being good with his money) does live up to his name. Unfortunately for his victims, this is not due to his rib ticking performance as a clown, but because he likes to rip open his victim’s ribcage before he devours them.

Ribcage is played with plenty of energy by Eric Corbin, who comes across as quite creepy beneath the makeup and the posture. However, it is his ability to take the form of others or suddenly manifest himself out of nowhere which really makes him effective. Although Ribcage works well for the jump scares during the film, it would have been nice to see the character developed to make him more distinctive, as he isn’t very memorable once the credits roll.

There is some dark humour in Clowntergeist, although it does take itself more seriously than I was expecting. Director Aaron Mirtes choosing to concentrating more on building the horror, rather than taking a more humorous route with the Ribcage being a clown. That being said, there is plenty of dark humour and unusual instances which keep the film fun. A scene where Ribcage tries to drive another car off the road is distinctively memorable, because he is driving ice cream truck with the music playing. It is still filmed with an intensity during the chase, but there is a bizarre humour to the scene, although I am not sure whether this was intentional or not.

The special effects in the film are effective and there is plenty of blood on screen to keep the gore hounds happy, with some more disturbing scenes intended to make the audience squirm. One such scene involves Emma, who is force fed the raw bloody remains of her dog, which is only identified by his tag and collar. This is certainly not be a scene for animal lovers or those with a week stomach.

There are also plenty of scenes throughout the film where they build up the tension and they manage to deliver some truly effective jump scares. The effectiveness of the jump scares however has more to do with the sudden loud blast of music, than the events happening on the screen. I had the volume turned up quite loud whilst watching this, so my neighbours would probably agree with me.

The acting in  Clowntergeist is OK; as you would expect with low budget horror. However the characters Emma and Heather (Monica Baker) work well together on the screen, especially during the fight or flight moments of the film.  I did however find it difficult to look at Monica and not think of Thelma from Scooby Doo, so I was half expecting the rest of the Mystery Incorporated team to turn up and solve the mystery.

Clowntergeist does a good job with the budget and although it incorporates several ideas from of horror movies, it has enough creativity in the story to make it worth watching. The film has a relatively short running time under 80 minutes, which feels about right for the film, although it is worth staying on for the post credits shots for a final surprise.

Clowntergeist premiers on VOD September 12th from High Octane Pictures. The film is released on DVD in the UK on October 16th from High Fliers Films.

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