It isn’t the only clown horror hitting this week, but Part II is almost assuredly going to be the better one. Clownado comes to video on demand 9/3 and DVD 9/17. It tells the story of Ron (John O’Hara), a murderous clown. His girlfriend Savanna (Rachel Lagen) has been stepping out on him. She and her boyfriend are planning to rob Ron, but he and his posse of un-made up clowns catch them in the act.
The opening section, which takes up the first thirty minutes or so of the film, is inexplicably written as film noir, with characters delivering hackneyed lines like, “Stealing from the crooked ain’t the same as stealing from the proper” and calling each other “doll face.” It’s nearly a third of the film, and it has no tornadoes, and the clowns spend much of it without their makeup, and let’s be honest: this film’s draw is a tornado full of clowns.
It finally arrives as the movie really begins, when Savanna casts a death spell on Ron and his cronies. For reasons not clearly explained, instead of killing them, the curse sucks them into a magic tornado that takes them wherever they want. It also gives them demonic power. It seems unlikely that subsequent viewings would help to parse the story’s muddled logic.
Writer-director Todd Sheets wasn’t going for realism or logic, though. The name, Clownado, is a good indicator that the movie is trying to pull out all the stops, and that’s where it falls flat. The titular tornado full of clowns is a light gray swirl that doesn’t tear up buildings or throw clowns through windshields at one-hundred miles per hour. Instead, the clowns dissolves in under it.
Once they’re there, they murder everyone they see, but their massacres feel paint-by-numbers. There’s repeated shots of knives piercing flesh and some bits with intestines being ripped out, but there’s no teasing. The shots, likely due to a low budget, are also close up on the gore so there’s also no one reacting. Without a reaction or a buildup, it’s like watching a butcher work. It’s not particularly frightening, yet Sheets and friends don’t play the gore for laughs.
There’s also stock footage obviously snuck in at different points, especially in a scene at the airport, which is off putting. Stranger still, the film’s marketing is built around a red-haired clown that isn’t in the movie. It makes sense to use stock images for an IndieGoGo campaign, which is where it started, but the final poster bears no resemblance to the film.
The one thing I can’t knock is how much fun everyone who made Clownado seems to be having. It’s ridiculous; tonally inconsistent, swinging from film noir to deep South. The ending takes absurd to a-whole-nother level, but the people who made it are having the time of their life, and if you can get through the rest of everything, the feeling is contagious. It’s almost like watching a high school play: everyone’s working hard and having fun, but that doesn’t mean it’s any good.
Wicked Rating – 4/10
Director(s): Todd Sheets
Writer(s): Todd Sheets
Stars: John O’Hara, Rachel Lagen
Release date: September 3, 2019 VOD; September 17, 2019 DVD
Studio/Production Company: Extreme Entertainment, Filmcore
Run Time: 99 minutes