Six years ago a jaded, unfunny and seedy clown was hired as a children's entertainer at young Tom's birthday party. But when the kids played a prank on him, it backfired and he died a sudden and gruesome death. But Tom is now a teenager and tonight he's holding a much wilder kind of party. And one guest has turned up who's certainly not on the list. Stitches the Clown has returned from the grave, and he's out for bloody revenge.
First off, there's not much that's original here. Characters are painted in broad strokes (the bitchy mean girl, the campy fat kid, the nice boy with childhood issues). Backfiring pranks that lead to murderous revenge have already been done in slasher films like The Burning. Wise-cracking psychos have made countless bad puns in movies like Leprechaun and the Nightmare On Elm Street series. And you can barely move for killer clowns in the horror section of any decent DVD store. One thing this does have, though, is comedian Ross Noble. He's actually quite a revelation, and surprisingly creepy in the role of the killer.
The violence has a slapstick sense to it, and feels a bit like watching a Tom & Jerry cartoon with added guts and eyeballs. I'm sure that's deliberate - in keeping with the clown theme. But sometimes the movie seems unsure whether it wants to be serious psycho killer film or Killer Klowns From Outer Space.
To be fair, the gore effects are very well handled and a lot of fun. I liked the way the attacks reflect the clown's original kids' party performance (there's a particularly grisly twist on balloon animals). The editing is sharp and witty, giving us several unexpected visual gags which help the humour along. And I have no idea how accurate it is, but the references to ancient clown lore are an interesting touch.
Yes, it does remind me of Funnyman from the 90s. And a lot of this stuff has also been done in other movies. But not always as well. While I doubt it will make many people's Top 5 favourite horror films, it's still entertaining as a not too demanding, Saturday-night-in-with-a-pizza movie.