Shortly after that, tragedy strikes and kills the clowns. Cut to modern day where the supernatural clowns are going after the core cast of characters. One might think that someone in the group is related to the people responsible for the fire all those years ago. But nope, the clowns just want to collect souls, which will trap the humans in the spirit world with them. So, what purpose does the prologue serve if not to establish motivation? Why give Psycan an impassioned speech about how the clowns are above the rest of humanity, only to have their motivation be nothing more than murderous zeal? The clowns are not seeking justified if twisted revenge. Instead, they are now just bloodthirsty monsters. This makes the prologue, for lack of a better term, entirely pointless.
But fret not, Clown Motel’s deficiencies extend far beyond a poorly thought out setup. Just before the killings start, Shannon (Alyssa Leonard) goes out to her RV only discover that the tires are slashed. She then storms back into the room and slaps one of the ghost hunters, blaming him for the act. It comes out of nowhere and does not make a lick of sense. No one gains anything from trapping the bachelorette party, and this character’s conclusion forgoes several more apparent answers. While not the only examples of Kelly’s writing abilities being subpar, they perfectly encapsulate the numerous faults and plotholes of the screenplay.
“…this is a slasher film, which is allowed some leeway in brainpower, so long as it is made up for through gore, guts, and dread.”
But, this is a slasher film, which is allowed some leeway in brainpower, so long as it is made up for through gore, guts, and dread. Here, Joseph Kelly is more successful, though there are still issues. The real motel’s existence is eerie enough, and Kelly makes full use of coulrophobia to help push atmosphere and intensity to their breaking point. So long as the action takes place in the hotel or the nearby cemetery (within the movie’s version of the motel; I do not know if there is an actual graveyard right next door in real life) the creep factor remains high.
And there is a lot of bloodshed. Occasionally the viscera looks weirdly pink, but anyone searching for a high body count with guts galore will find several moments to catch a thrill. The effects work is solid, for which Rob Wichman and Shane Shamsel should be justly proud.
But, when the characters venture out to the desert and the goldmines they clowns use to excavate, the apprehension the audience feels for the characters evaporates. This is partially due to some odd editing which creates a few scenes that do not make a lot of sense. When one human decides that he’d rather kill himself then let clowns obtain his soul, the ensuing chase is short-lived and poorly filmed. Plus, due to filming in broad daylight, and an absence of hiding places, the last third has a distinct lack of scares.
Clown Motel is very poorly written, with several plotholes and an opening that wastes the audience’s time. This makes connecting with the characters very difficult, despite the cast trying as they might. Writer Joseph Kelly fares better in the directing chair though, and the notable special effects ably help him. In the end, though, the bad outweighs the good, as the film leaves no lasting impact on the viewer.
"…was filmed at the actual Clown Motel."