Clown Blu-ray Review

A killer clown costume threatens a family in this horror film from producer Eli Roth

A cursed clown costume turns an ordinary family man into a child-killing demon. Clown ends up being an extended character piece as a man slowly loses himself to a demonic clown costume. It’s a fairly conventional horror movie that hits enough satisfying notes for eager fans.

Jon Watts’ Clown came to life under the guidance of horror auteur Eli Roth when a fake trailer for the film made the rounds a few years ago. Jon Watts and Christopher Ford put out a demo trailer for Clown on the Internet and falsely credited the movie to Eli Roth. In actuality Roth had no connection to their trailer. When he saw the trailer after it had garnered some internet buzz, Eli Roth decided to help them out by producing their horror film. The finished movie doesn’t resemble Eli Roth’s own work. Clown definitely stands on its own as a monster movie done with more character development than normal.

Some people are afraid of clowns and horror movies have exploited them as scary monsters long before Clown’s arrival. With all due respect to Pennywise the Clown from Stephen King’s It, they’ve never frightened me. Does that affect one’s enjoyment of Clown? No, the film moves along a well-tread path of mainstream monster movies making it more universal in appeal. It’s a horror movie through and through with neat F/X for gorehounds. The screenplay is more polished than usual for indie fare with an overdeveloped narrative.

Kent McCoy (Andy Powers) is a real estate agent with a wife and son. The scheduled clown cancels at the last minute on his son’s tenth-birthday party. Kent thinks he’s gotten lucky when he finds an old clown costume in a home he’s selling. He puts on the clown costume, with face-paint and red nose, surprising his son for the boy’s party. Things start out fine but quickly escalate for Kent as he attempts to remove the clown costume after the party. A series of misfortunes for Kent begin to hint the costume can’t be taken off.

Kent’s wife Meg (Laura Allen) becomes confused over Kent’s increasingly erratic and dangerous behavior wearing the costume. Meg still hasn’t told Kent she’s pregnant with their second child. In movies like Clown there are always certain characters that act as cryptic sources of information. Kent eventually tracks down Karlsson (Peter Stormare), a mysterious man who could possibly shed light on the costume’s origins. It is Kent’s only option as the costume begins to change his personality, threatening everyone around him.

If you enjoy bloody slashers with nasty deaths, Clown won’t disappoint you.

If there is a problem with Clown, its 99-minute running time should be trimmed. The movie is a fairly serious dramatic treatment of a demonic clown costume possessing a man and then turning him into a monster that eats children. They even delve into a pseudo-history of clowns as backstory. The transformation from man to monster goes on for a long time. All of this slows the film down.

Given the subject matter, you might expect some moments of levity. If there are laughs, I didn’t get them. This is certainly not tongue-in-cheek horror. Clown goes for the throat and never lets up, including an emotionally draining final act.

Clown turns dark and nasty early in its narrative, building to a disturbing final act with Kent’s family at the center. If you enjoy bloody slashers with nasty deaths, Clown won’t disappoint you. The make-up and effects are excellent, a real credit to Clown’s visceral impact. Kent’s physical transformation to a demon looks marvelous for a low-budget film.

Director Jon Watts’ Clown is frightening genre entertainment. It won’t win any awards but the key cast members all deliver fine performances, including the always underrated Laura Allen. Veteran character actor Peter Stormare does what he can in a supporting role. Andy Powers, often coated under heavy make-up in the clown costume, adds a solid every-man flavor as Kent. Something just seems missing from it in the final equation, an element that would make it more than just another predictable horror flick.

Clown Blu-ray screen shot 16

Video

Starz/Anchor Bay offers Clown on a BD-25. Encoded in AVC at moderate bitrates, the 99-minute main feature offers strong definition and detail. The 1080P-resolution video is shown at its native 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Transferred from its 2K Digital Intermediate, this BD fully represents the low-budget Clown in decent quality.

The video has strong contrast with a slightly cooler color temperature. Clown’s flesh-tones tend to be paler than most other movies these days on Blu-ray. This is consistent, steady picture quality with solid clarity. A modest amount of crushing occurs in a few of Clown’s darkest scenes. The compression effort doesn’t have much trouble with Clown’s mostly clean, well-lit cinematography.

Clown isn’t demo material. This is a horror movie with unfiltered detail and without a drastic color grading. This Blu-ray showcases the movie’s solid picture quality in fine form.

Audio

Clown receives an active 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack. Its dialogue is heard in intelligible detail at all times, nicely balanced with the louder sound effects and score. You’ll notice the surround mix come alive in scarier moments. Dynamics are cleanly mastered with crisp fidelity. Some LFE impact adds to the mix.

Optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles appear in a white font, inside the scope framing at all times.

Extras

Starz provides a slipcover for first pressings. A UV digital copy which redeems in HDX is included. As you can see below, one featurette is the extent of Clown’s special features. I guess commentaries are dead on Blu-ray for all but the biggest releases.

Making Clown (06:24 in HD) – A fine look behind the scenes with Eli Roth and several other key cast/crew members. Some on-set footage is included. Laura Allen, Peter Stormare, Jon Watts and others contribute in interviews.

Regression Trailer (02:12 in HD) – This plays before the main menu.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not influenced DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Click on the images below for full-resolution 1080P screenshots taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered during the process. Patreon supporters are able to access these screens early, view them as .pngs, and gain access to exclusives.