14th Sep2017

‘Circus Kane’ VOD Review

by Philip Rogers

Stars: Tim Abell, Jonathan Lipnicki, Mark Christopher Lawrence, Nicole Fox, Jonathan Nation, Mike Jerome Putnam, Scott Thomas Reynolds, Bill Voorhees, Ted Monte, Victoria Konefal | Written by Sean Sellars, James Cullen Bressack, Zack Ward | Directed by Christopher Douglas-Olen Ray


A reclusive circus master invites a group of social media stars to his house of haunts. Anyone who can make it out before being scared into submission will earn $250,000 – but they soon learn they are not only competing for money, but also fighting for their lives…

At the beginning of Circus Kane, circus master Balthazar Kane (Tim Abell) says “Nothing is for free. If it’s too good to be true it probably is”. This would have been good advice for a group of naive social media stars. Offered $250,00 if they can make it through a new haunted house attraction without being scared into submission, it really does seem too good to be true.

Each of the participants are chosen due to their connection with horror and social media influence. This includes; a reviewer, blogger, collector, scream queen, gamer, rocker, vlogger and a teen. Cameras are set up around the haunted house to record everything they do; so the footage can be screened to all their social media fans once it has ended. Only when the death toll starts to rise do they realise all too late why it wasn’t streamed live.

The film is a combination of House on Haunted Hill and Saw in the twisted world of a carnival circus. Assuming the circuses have a psychotic killer clowns, which is often suggested in horror films. Director Christopher Ray also takes direct inspiration from Rob Zombie. The hallucinogenic style of Balthazar’s videos, which he uses to communicate with the participants are reminiscent of House of 1ooo corpses and Balthazar’s look very much modelled on the Rob’s stage persona. Even though his looks are modelled on Rob Zombie, Tim Abell does a great job as Balthazar. Moving between an eerie calm and an exuberant excitement, his character is certainly memorable especially in the later scenes with the burns makeup.

The special effects in the film are well done. The creative kills are delivered in a tongue in cheek style, with a generous amount of blood which is splattered all over the actors wherever possible. The highlight however is the psychotic clowns, who are also used for the advertisement of the film. Any fans of the horror comedy Killer Klowns From Outer Space, will no doubt see the similarities straight away. The comical elements of the clowns add to the story, especially when they perform a trick on one of the contestants who they saw in half with a chainsaw. Their jesting performance misleads the rest of the group, who presume it was just another rouse to scare them.

The film may lack originality, with it being made like the Frankenstein’s monster of horror movies, it is still a lot of fun. This is mainly due to the films satirical humour and likeable characters. Ted Monte stands out as the comic relief in the film. Full of jovial humour and limitless bad impressions, he is the type of person who has the ability to be equally annoying as he is entertaining.

Circus Kane did have some clever ideas, especially with the tasks which they had to solve to progress further through the house. Where it starts off as a simple task to decipher clues, it later turns into a life-threatening challenge to survive. One scene builds up the tension perfectly as they try to work their way through a maze of barb wire. This includes sliding under a line which goes across the room. The tension builds as you watch the first few barely slide under the final barb wire, as your thoughts naturally go to the final contestant. Who in a polite way is of a bigger build. As he tries to slide under his back gets hooked on the barb wire. I half grimaced and laughed when he was stuck, especially when they said we will just pull you through with the ideology “Do you take your band aid off, fast or slow?”. This wouldn’t be my line of thing when someone is caught on barb wire. Nerveless, they pulled.

Although the film does well, it really could have benefited from a bigger budget. This would have enabled them to continue the tasks in more detail throughout the film, as the final rooms lacked the same creativity and visual impact as the first half of the film. One particularly short fight, which may have suffered from the budget, involves a fight with a cannibalistic neo-Nazi. The short scene looks completely misplaced in both the tone and style to the rest of the film. It feels as though it should have been a bigger scene, because it doesn’t really add to the story and as part of the theme it doesn’t work.

It may not be a perfect film and for many horror fans it treads all too familiar ground. But working to its B-Movie strengths, Circus Kane is full of dark comedy, bloody gore and memorable villains, which makes it a perfect late night horror leading up to Halloween.

Circus Kane is available on VOD now from Uncork’d Entertainment.


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