However, when Gags The Clown succeeds, it is stunning. The cast is universally excellent, despite their one-dimensional characters. Lauren Ashley Carter is captivating as the put-upon reporter. Her talking down to a local shop owner who tells of a Gags sighting, in 1974, is highly memorable. Kuether is a lot of fun as the more freewheeling cameraman and the two play off each other well. As Gags, Heuvelman is quite disturbing and is able to maintain an air of mystery in all of his scenes.
Gamble and Perez both make their onscreen cop personas feel genuinely concerned for the residents of their city. Charlson and Sherry make for a believably obnoxious pair of teens who goad each other on past the point of no return. Though it is Sharp, as Sarah, who really shines among the young thespians, she gives an impassioned speech about why Chris should be the one donning the clown costume, and she nails it. As the self-righteous Wright, Aaron Christensen is very good. The audience buys that he is doing what he believes to be right, even if the law isn’t on his side.
“…found footage angle can work wonderfully…here, it is more of a hindrance.”
As a director, Krause maintains a pitch-black mood that allows for some darkly humorous moments. More importantly, Gags The Clown has an unceasing aura of nightmare-inducing terror permeating every second of the film. Given the presentation issues, the fact that the movie is not only scary but edge-of-your-seat suspenseful is a remarkable feat. Kudos should be given to the director of photography D.J. Kast. The film takes place over one night, but no sequence is too dark to hide the action (with one intentional exception).
The screenplay by Krause and John Pata might not have strong characterizations, but it is not short on ambition. There are several storylines going on, and each one is compelling in its own right. The best two, in my opinion, are the reporter and the podcaster, but each section has several engaging elements. Then there is how everything comes together. The ending is stunning and lets the movie go out on a high note.
Gags The Clown has a few issues, but it works where it counts. It is a scary, intense watch with an engaging premise. And it is all brought to life by an excellent cast, all of whom are able to overcome their one-dimensional roles.
"…an unceasing aura of nightmare-inducing terror permeating every second..."