With their big smiles, oversized shoes and red squeaky noses, what could possibly be scary about clowns? Well think again, because Stitches combines gory deaths with gags and giggles in a hilarious black comedy.
It’s safe to say that Stitches isn’t for the faint hearted. The humorous horror – directed by Conor McMahon – cleverly blends spine-tingling splatter with crude quips and laugh out loud gags.
Sleazy, smelly and swindling are just three words you could use to describe Stitches the clown. Any familiar ideas of what we think about clowns are given a mighty twist as Stitches is played by Ross Noble, a man with a distinctly kooky manner and even a Geordie accent. The film is Noble’s acting début and he couldn’t have done a better job of ‘playing the fool’. He even manages to bring laughter to the archetypically dreary graveyard scenes by creeping (or in this case, squeaking) his way in and out of the gravestones, swinging his arms like a monkey and shuffling his oversized feet along the grass.
When Stitches the clown arrives at a children’s party, speeding along the road in his rickety clown-mobile, little does he know it will be his last. The clown – as played by comedian Ross Noble – cannot seem to pull off any tricks, no thanks to the cruel children distracting him. They pop his balloon animals, throw things at his face and torment him. But when one mischievous boy ties Stitches shoe laces together it turns out to be one prank too many. Stitches trips and falls face first into a knife sticking out of the dishwasher and dies – or so the terrified children think. Little do they know that according to the legend of a secret clown-cult, clowns never rest until they have fully finished a party, which means only one thing. Stitches is coming back for them. When the children are teenagers, he rises from the grave, seeks them out and takes their lives in freaky – but funny – clown-themed ways. What could be better?
The McMahon direction (Dead Meat) is set in modern day Ireland, where most of the action takes place around Tom’s (Tommy Knight) wild house party. This heavily clichéd setting recalls Scream and every other teen horror film which isn’t very visually captivating or stimulating.
It is the way this generic setting is contrasted with all the gore that makes Stitches so funny. The death scenes are over-dramatized and exaggerated to great effect, and poke fun at gruesome horror films like Saw. Balloon animals made from intestines are just one highlight.
Despite the gore, the witty script – penned by David O’Brien – keeps a light atmosphere; after every eye-shuddering death, Stitches always manages to break the tension with a crude pun.
The stunningly vile film not only hits every beat in the horror and comedy genre, but it also ventures into the realm of fantasy during a dark ritual which brings Stitches back from the grave.
This beautiful, yet creepy, clown custom is the most serene and mystic moment of the film. The ceremony sees a group of clowns swirl smoke, chant and light up their hidden graveyard chamber with candles and lights. However, the indulgent backdrop could be an attempt to make up for the lack of stimulating set and costumes throughout the rest of the film.
With a splurge of never-ending puns from the killer clown, combined with daft deaths, this black comedy will certainly leave you in stitches.