14th Aug2023

Fantasia 2023: ‘Apocalypse Clown’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: David Earl, Natalie Palamides, Amy De Bhrún, Fionn Foley, Tadhg Murphy, Ivan Kaye | Written by Shane O’Brien, James Walmsley, Demian Fox | Directed by George Kane

There are quite a few movies with two things that I wouldn’t put together normally that get thrust into each other for our entertainment. Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus, Ninjas vs Zombies, Cowboys vs Vampires (yes these are all actual movies that I have seen) and now the apocalypse and clowns.

Like many movies with crazy-sounding themes, the title alone does get your attention but the story itself is actually as simple as it could be. An electrical and technological blackout has hit Ireland and now anarchy and chaos have hit the country. A group of mostly failed clowns have ended up together travelling the country and trying to survive. But, it might give them one last shot at the big time.

Obviously, this is not a film that takes itself too seriously and it wouldn’t be half as good if it tried too. It is mostly quite dark humour but that was always going to be the case when you have and end of the world scenario with a bunch of people dressed as clowns. Not all the comedy worked though. That’s not to say this isn’t a funny film but I only laughed out loud a couple of times, while I was more often than not just sniggering at one-liners or a moment of good physical comedy.

I am a big fan of David Earl. His work with the Ricky Gervais shows Derek and After Life has always been extremely funny and he was a highlight in both. His recent lead role in the movie Brian and Charles proved he can do something a little different but equally as good and once again, in Apocalypse Clown he is very good. Playing Bobo, a man that no longer wants to be a clown, he produces some of the funniest moments and his line delivery and comic timing are near perfect.

He is almost upstaged though by the excellent Natalie Palamides as Funzo. Better known for her voice work in many animated shows and movies, she excels on screen as the craziest of the clowns. The film It is mentioned several times during the movie and about her character (in what great scene Funzo explains that she has never heard of it) but although the character might be a little bit insane and actually quite scary, it’s not Pennywise and Funzo stands on her own as a great character, bringing a type of comedy that the other clowns don’t have. She also has the best ‘look’ of all of the clowns.

I did not expect Pollyanna McIntosh to turn up for an extended cameo but there she was. The star of The Woman and The Walking Dead is enjoyable in a short but highly enjoyable role.

Apocalypse Clown’s high moments far outweigh its lows. It’s low budget does show at times – I feel that the film-makers would have wanted to do more if they had more money but I did very much enjoy how the film ended – films about the end of the world are never easy to conclude but Apocalypse Clown manages to do it in a fitting and funny way. While this can’t quite be classed as a ‘clown horror’ movie, it’s a highly entertaining movie for genre fans and unlike anything you’ve seen before.

*** 3/5

Apocalypse Clown screened as part of this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival. The film will be in cinemas across the UK and Ireland from 1st September, courtesy of Vertigo Releasing.


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