Susan Granger’s review of “ClownTown” (ITN)
Extreme fear of clowns is so prevalent that there’s a word for it: “Coulrophobia.”
That could be reason enough to avoid Tom Nagel’s cheapo horror film that revolves around a group of friends who get stranded in a seemingly abandoned town, only to discover that they’re being stalked by vicious psychopaths dressed as circus clowns.
Allegedly inspired by true events, Jeff Miller’s screenplay begins with a pretty young babysitter removing her halter, baring her breasts and being knifed in the belly. That’s within the first five minutes.
Skip ahead 15 years to Stanley’s Diner, somewhere in southern Ohio.
Jill (Katie Keen) and Mike (Andrew Staton) are double-dating with Sarah (Lauren Compton) and Brad (Brian Nagel). They’re headed for a country music concert in Columbus and, when they ask for directions, they’re told by the local sheriff that there’s a shortcut but warned not to stop in any of the local towns.
Predictably, they get lost. Then Jill realizes she left her cellphone back on the counter in the diner.
When a Good Samaritan calls to say he found it, they arrange to meet in Clinton, a town that was devastated years earlier by a horrific train crash. That’s where they join up with two construction workers, Billy (Tom Nagel) and Dylan (Jeff Denton), as the axe-swinging slaughter begins.
Jill gets kidnapped, tied up and ghoulishly tortured, while her terrified cohorts listen to the sordid history of ClownTown, related by a crazy old coot named Frank (Greg Violand).
It seems there’s a psychotic reason behind the violence, culminating in the explanation: “A mother always has to protect her son, no matter what.”
According to legend, clowns have long been associated with nefarious deeds, including murder, infidelity, pedophilia and financial ruin. But they deserve better than this senseless scream-fest.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “ClownTown” is a trashy 2, several steps beyond creepy.