'ClownTown' Is A Generic Stalk-And-Siege Movie That Still Manages To Pack A Few Good Scares

By James Jay Edwards
Released: September 30, 2016
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A group of friends get stranded in a seemingly deserted small town and find themselves stalked by a violent gang of psychopaths dressed as clowns.

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Film Review
The news has been full of sightings of creepy clowns lately, some trying to lure kids into the deep dark woods while others are content just to lurk and look. Well, as if ripped from today's headlines, ClownTown wonders what would happen if these jokers took it a little further.

After a pre-credits scene that is as obvious of a tribute to John Carpenter's Halloween as one is bound to find in movies today (there's even a character named "Mr. Strode"), ClownTown ends up being about a group of young folks who get stranded in an unfamiliar town while on their way to a concert. Their car disabled and their phone lost, the kids start to walk for help - and find themselves being stalked by a group of homicidal clowns. The gang has to band together and do whatever they have to do to survive their night of terror.

Chris Hahn as Machete Clown, David Greathouse as Baseball Clown, and Ryan Pilz as Crowbar Clown in the horror film CLOWNTOWN, an ITN Distribution release. Photo courtesy of ITN Distribution.

ClownTown was written by Jeff Miller (The Burning Dead) and directed by Tom Nagel (his first feature). As far as movies go, there's not much to it. It's a pretty straight forward story that injects the villains from Killer Klowns from Outer Space into the universe of The Purge. It actually seems like it's the Asylum version of Rob Zombie's 31. It's very derivative of a ton of other movies; it's even got the requisite girl-crawling-on-the-ground-away-from-danger™ on the promotional poster.

None of this is to say that ClownTown is bad. It has its moments, and some of those moments are great. There's just nothing there has hasn't been done before. There's nothing that audiences haven't seen before. It's still a fairly suspenseful ride with a handful of twists that, as predictable as they are, are still fun. It runs out of gas a little in the third act, but so do most slasher movies. As a stalk-and-siege movie, it passes with a solid C.

Lauren Elise as Sarah and Brian Nagel as Brad in the horror film CLOWNTOWN, an ITN Distribution release. Photo courtesy of ITN Distribution.

If this sounds like a wishy-washy review, well, it is. ClownTown is a bit of a wishy-washy movie. It's not incredibly original, but it packs a decent punch, and it's never boring. It's a forgettable movie, but it's fun for the 86 minutes that it's onscreen. It just won't have you searching the bushes for real homicidal clowns when it's over.
Scary Factor
Let's face it, clowns are scary enough without having been in childhood-ruining horror movies like It and Poltergeist. The inclusion of clowns in a horror movie seems like it would be a cheap gimmick to gain scares, and in some ways it is, but that doesn't stop ClownTown from being scary in its own right. ClownTown is essentially a tense stalking movie, with plenty of good jump scares and more than its share of brutal violence. For fans of that type of thing - e.g. the torture porn crowd - there's plenty of it.

David Greathouse as Baseball Clown in the horror film CLOWNTOWN, an ITN Distribution release. Photo courtesy of ITN Distribution.

The titular clowns in ClownTown just give it an extra dimension of freakiness. They do horrible things, and the fact that they're dressed as clowns while they do it all is just icing on the cake. The clowns are anonymous, only distinguished in the credits by simple descriptive names such as Machete Clown (Chris Hahn, aka WWE superstar Johnny Paradise), Crowbar Clown (the film's production designer Ryan Pilz), and Girl Clown ("Face Off" contestant and the one of the film's SFX makeup artists Beki Ingram, who has also done effects for Tusk and John Dies at the End). The scariest clown is also the most minimalistic, a baseball bat-toting creep predictably named Baseball Clown (David Greathouse, another "Face Off" contestant who served as the key SFX artist on the film, and who also played a werewolf in Late Phases and a creature in Jug Face) who looks like a cross between Otis from The Devil's Rejects and the title character from The Taking of Deborah Logan. He's the baddest clown in ClownTown, even if he's the least clown-like. And he's the most terrifying character in a movie that's already pretty scary.

Horror, Thriller
Release Date
September 30, 2016
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