In Clowns, Jasmine (Annina Kaski) and Lewis (Tom Summers) join their friends Cindy (Vicky Lissamn), and Josh (Shane Buckley) on a camping trip. After setting up their chosen spot, they build a campfire and hang out for a while. But it isn’t long before their merrymaking is interrupted by the presence of two psychotic clowns – Coco (Kellyann Summers) and Chuckles (Steven Pereira). They want to slash, stab, and torture the campers. Can anyone make it out alive?
Directed by Kris Smith and Nikki Tomb, from a script by Tomb, this 30-minute short works more often than not. While there is no sense of tension until Coco first shows up, this works in the movie’s favor. It is all that much more jarring when Coco and Chuckles, as their non-clown selves, crash the party to size up the group. From then, roughly halfway through, until the end, the movie becomes a gruesome, blood-splattered affair.
Before the mayhem ensues, the character development is good… but only for two of the four main characters. Jasmine and Lewis have been a couple for a while, and Lewis feels as if their relationship is souring, as Jasmine has not been intimate for months. The thing is, she’s been dealing with a lot of sexual harassment and other unsavory stuff at work. During this trip, they attempt to sort out their differences and get back on the same page. It’s very compelling stuff, and the dialogue is believable enough.
“…two psychotic clowns…want to slash, stab, and torture the campers.”
As for Josh and Cindy, well, he wants her, and that is about it. But, Lissaman and Buckley make the most of it and are fun to watch. That is not to imply Summers and Kaski are merely resting on their laurels. They share good chemistry, and once the chaos erupts, they sell their fear well. Kaski especially comes off fantastically during the carnage, with her remaining calm under intense pressure.
Now comes the moment horror fans have awaited – how are the kills and bloodshed? For the most part, pretty good. The small exception to that is the CGI blood sputters that happen. Yeah, Clowns goes that route, and given the limited resources at the filmmakers’ disposal, it was a mistake. CGI blood can work in highly stylized films, but that is not the case here. The direction and screenplay work well, but they are not aiming for anything beyond an enjoyable horror experience. This means the few shots using CGI (yes, it is only a brief few moments, but what a distraction!) really stands out in the worst kind of way.
Excluding that, the kills work. The practical gore effects are quite good, and once the clowns begin their killing spree, there’s a lot of them. Coco’s constant belittling of Chuckles, who is too afraid to do anything drastic, is both amusing and speaks volumes about both her and him. Ultimately, Clowns works because these two are frightening, intense killers with nothing to lose.
Clowns packs a lot into 30-minutes. The characters are interesting, the acting is good, the direction is solid, and most importantly, the slashers and their butchering are terrifying. While it does suffer from a few small issues, it is a lot of fun overall.
"…an enjoyable horror experience."