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By Bobby LePire | September 16, 2020

It certainly helps matters that Tonks is very well cast. She ably sells the flirtatious, flighty side of the character, as well as the more determined, though scared, moments, as she attempts to escape the murderous Clownface. Though, some of her early lines do come off a bit wooden, such as asking her roommate what she’s up to that night. But overall, it is a good performance that invites the audience’s sympathy and keeps them on board throughout the dull b-plot.

Tonks is given help by Loone, who is also affable and sweet as her boyfriend, as well as Bailey’s intensely physical performance as the killer, which makes him a menacing presence. Less engaging are literally all of the actors. Douglas is instantly forgettable, even when she’s on-screen. She only registers one emotion – dull surprise – making it all but impossible to care for her.

“…an admirable, if overlong effort, that focuses equally on the characters and horror.”

But, she is not the worst actor here. Buck comes to us from some other more over-the-top film; he’s all nervous twitches and odd pronunciations. It’s almost interesting, in terms of how baffling each choice he makes is; almost. Then there’s Leah Solmaz as Zoe’s friend Charlotte. Far too much time is spent on her harassing Jenna over Zoe’s disappearance. One, this subplot, is unnecessary and distracting. Two, Solmaz is grating and inauthentic at every turn. When she’s supposed to sound nasty, it comes across as more entitled than mean. When she apologizes, it reminds one of when a 6-year-old is forced to do so by her parents, not sincerely.

While the writing is uneven, depending on the characters and plot being followed at the moment, Bourne helms an eerie motion picture with fantastic and moody lighting. Clownface is only home to a tiny handful of scares, but thanks to Benjamin Thompson’s cinematography, the whole affair, when not stuffed into bland, British flats, has a pervasive sense of dread hanging over it. When coupled with the impressive gore effects, and the utter brutality of the titular slasher, there’s enough meat to satisfy genre buffs.

Clownface is divided into two asymmetric halves. One of them features a few strong performances, a compelling story smartly told, and an original spin on a few old ideas. When mixed with the gore and atmosphere, Alex Bourne’s little horror flick is worth a recommendation. The other half, full of bad actors in a boring and distracting subplot, weigh the movie down overall. Is it still worth watching? Yes, once, but only once. However, I am left excited for the director’s next feature, as with a tighter script, he could helm something very special.

Clownface (2020)

Directed and Written: Alex Bourne

Starring: Dani Tonks, Phillip John Bailey, Thomas Loone, Richard Buck, Hannah Douglas, Leah Solmaz, etc.

Movie score: 6.5/10

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"…an homage to the classic early slashers such as Black Christmas and Halloween."

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