31 Days of Nightmares 2017 — Clown
Nothing like a pair of excellent monster movies to keep the Halloween feeling flowing. One is from the director of Spiderman: Homecoming, the other from the great Guillermo del Toro (see next post).
Clown [source: Netflix], directed by Jon Watts, is a very unsettling creature feature about a man who puts on a clown costume he finds in an old house to surprise his son on his birthday. Unfortunately, the clown suit is cursed and causes the man to gradually turn into a child-eating demon.
The most interesting thing I found about this movie is that it transforms along with the main character. At first it is a very body-horror focused movie, as he slowly realizes that this clown suit has bonded to his body and can’t be removed. His efforts to cut it off and realization that the wig has literally become his actual hair are pretty horrifying, and show off all the elements of body horror that make it so effective and awful (when you’re very sick or have something wrong with you and you’re not sure what it is, that feeling of being betrayed by your own flesh, or having your body invaded by something alien, is truly terrible).
In the middle of the movie, the demon starts to take over and his hunger for children dominates his every thought. But there’s still plenty of human left in him, so he’s horrified by what he’s becoming. There are some pretty intense psychological scenes where he concocts ways to commit suicide. This is also when we’re introduced to the classic “grizzled old guy who knows about the demon” character, in this case played by Peter Stormare, one of the best character actors working today. He explains that there are two ways to defeat the clown demon — decapitate it and hide the costume forever, or feed it five children and hide the costume forever (it can’t be permanently destroyed).
In the final act, the transformation is complete, and we’re given a really weird monster (done entirely with practical effects!) that is clearly some kind of evil demon but still also somehow, horribly, resembles a clown. There’s a great sequence in a Chuck E. Cheese that will probably ensure you never let your kids play in a ball pit ever again. Eventually, the clown guy’s wife confronts him in an indoor minigolf course, and realizes he’s already killed and eaten four kids. The clown threatens to eat her kid unless he brings her a different one. Oh, be aware that kids and animals are killed graphically in this movie, which is an entirely valid reason to not want to see it for many people.
So we get a brutal moral dilemma for the clown’s wife, and just when you thought every variation of a monster movie climax had been done, there’s something extra chilling in this one.That said, if you’re under some kind of bizarre warlock’s curse that says you can only ever see one Jon Watts movie in your life, I’d probably pick Cop Car over this one. But both movies take a very simple premise and extrapolate it into a wild ride.