Of course, the whole thing was a family affair with a pre-teen Alexander Shell directing 8 Ball Clown. The one major complaint is the sound design, which is all over the map. Occasionally, the dialogue is way louder than the previous scene. At other times, it gets lost because it is much quieter than the music (which is inoffensively forgettable). But, the young man has a firm grasp on style and timing.
Aside from a few choppy edits, mostly concerning cuts to Alex and Kristine’s onscreen father played by Jon Firman, the movie is well constructed. There is a certain creepiness that permeates the film, which makes for a few scary sequences. 8 Ball is creeping around the kids’ house and appears outside of the window. The reverse over-the-shoulder shot to reveal this is spooky. The dark lighting also makes for a handful for creepy shots.
“…Le Doux as 8 Ball the clown is such a mesmerizing force of nature…”
Then there’s the acting. Jacob Le Doux as the titular murderer is fantastic. There is not a single second in this film where he does not own it. The role allows him to do a bit of everything. There are more serious, dramatic moments when he is contemplating suicide. There is the overacting madness while tormenting the kids. Then there is the creepy killer vibe during the murders of the random people. He makes every moment believable and even fun.
Alexander and Kristine Shell are mostly good here. The biggest issue with their performances are not the line deliveries, which are convincing enough for the most part. No, for both of them, it is their body language that fails them. The nerve-racking horror is diminished in its impact due to the casualness with which they hold themselves. Whether they are pulling pranks on one another, or being chased by 8 Ball, they tend to look relaxed at all times. This speaks volumes about the atmosphere on set (in a good way), but if the actors don’t act scared, the audience cannot be fully immersed. But, these are only children after all; children who wrote, directed, and starred in this film. As such, they can easily grow, learn, and become as fantastic of actors as they are writers/ directors.
8 Ball Clown works way more often than it does not. While the script may bide its time for a spell, its emphasis on characters pays off in the long run. The acting may not work all the time from the kids in the lead, but they are certainly not bad. Plus, Le Doux as 8 Ball the clown is such a mesmerizing force of nature, even veteran actors may get swallowed up by his manic energy. Even though the sound design is wonky and uneven, the directing overall is stylish and engaging, crafting a tension-filled atmosphere with ease.
"…a psychotic drug-addled clown taking gleeful pleasure in murdering others."