My haiku review of Stitches:
What is so fearsome,
Of a painted sad faced clown,
that can never die.
An unkempt sozzled clown encounters a nightmare job, attempting to impress precocious pre-teens with bendy balloons and a dipsomaniac’s patter. The children’s unruliness goes too far and an accidental juxtaposition between head and knife leaves the entertainer far from alive. Later the unfortunate youth whose party was interrupted follows a cavalcade of harlequins into a spooky chapel and spies on them as they perform a bizarre ritual opening the door for a resurrection of sorts for the eponymous clown. After years of therapy the clock strikes midnight and as the first birthday celebrated since the accident unfolds for the teen who was once a pre-teen, the clown comes back from beyond the grave for his encore.
The film plays like a homage to the American supernatural slasher movies that those of us at a certain age would have seen for the first time during our teens. It pairs the comedian Ross Noble with the lead role in a vehicle where the near immortal protagonist gets to trot out pithy one-liners as he rends his way through the cast. The moments of comedy in this are not in Noble’s usual Randomist vein, but he plays the character well and the film sits nicely as a more brutal and graphic cousin to the Freddie and Jason movies. Interestingly an unkillable clown antagonist seems to be more effective as a movie monster than creatures like Freddie or Jason by tapping into something deeper rooted in our psyche and twisting it when we see the clown as a superhuman malevolent maniac. There may be an expectation that a clown is something sinister already, making one an unkillable death machine is too close for comfort and puts people immediately on edge. Stitches sits in good company with previous films containing clowns-as-antagonsts such as It, Killer Klowns From Outer Space and 100 Tears. As such the writer/director Conor McMahon was onto a good thing with the clown-as-villain and steers the film to its conclusion in a competent manner.
We managed to catch this in one of the later time-slots at Frightfest 2012 and it suits the Midnight Movie Madness moniker, with some nice horror touches and enough comedy to prevent it from being unceasingly brutal to the various teen cast members.
Overall its a decent film, with a good performance from Ross Noble. I’m giving this a grease paint and blood spattered one thumb up, if you fancy a popcorn flick in the vein of Nightmare on Elm Street for a late night scare-session, give this one a try.
Warning: the trailer is both quite gory and spoiler-filled, do not watch it if you want anything that happens in the film to be at all a surprise…