Written by: Conor McMahon, David O’Brien
Directed by: Conor McMahon
Top Secret Clown Business
Not since HKC (2003) and The Devil’s Rejects (2005) had I been excited about a hack and slash clown character, and then along came the subject of this review, Stitches (2012). At first, I didn’t know what to make of this one. I hadn’t even seen a preview when a friend of mine asked, “Dude, have you seen Stitches? It’s about a murderous clown!” I didn’t know if it was going to be a standard slasher about a guy in a clown suit killing kids who have sex, a vengeful spirit like Freddy Kreuger, an alien creature like Pennywise, or even a Killer Clown from Outer Space! My imagination was doing somersaults! Stitches definitely seemed to be a very genre conscious film at first, with some nods to films like Evil Dead, with a quick suit up sequence, in addition to a classroom dream sequence reminiscent of A Nightmare On Elm St., among many others.
Stitches is about hapless clown, Richard Grindle AKA, you guessed it, STICHES! The film opens with the bumbling clown with an attitude on his way to a gig, main character Tom’s birthday party, who is turning ten. During the opening of the film we see Richard having sex in his van, during which the woman notices an egg in a glass case with his clown face painted on it. He says that “they” made him paint it on when he signed up. When Stitches finally shows up to the party late, he demands his pay before he starts the show. The children instantly do not like him. They taunt him as he stumbles his way through tricks to appeal to them. They become very spiteful and pull a prank on Stitches that leads to his untimely death.
The movie then jumps ahead six years. The children from the party are all scarred in their own way from causing and witnessing his death. Most of the children seem to have turned into rebellious confused teenagers, most with emotional problems. Basically, they are little assholes and you WANT them to die. Teenage Tom, played by the aptly named Tommy Knight, has suffered from the psychological trauma of inadvertently committing murder during his formative years. He is now a troubled 16 year old as we flash ahead to his 17th birthday.
Tom is now taking medications for his anxiety and hallucinations, which leads to the aforementioned Krueger like day-mare. Tom has delusions that Stitches has come back from the grave to kill him and all of his friends in a fit of revenge. Like that would happen? OK, so it happened. Tom was resistant to having a party on his birthday since he hasn’t had one since that fateful day. His mother was going away and encouraged him to get some beer and have some mates over. Reluctantly, he tells a few of his close friends about it, who include Richie, Bulger, Sarah, Kate, Paul and Vinny. Some he tells, others find out through the rumor mill at high school parties. Those six, along with Tom, were all involved in the disasters of Tom’s tenth triumph, all playing their part in the chain of events leading to the murder of their merrymaker.
Remember that egg thing I mentioned before? Well, it turns out an ancient clown cult has clowns make these when they are born into clown-hood. Clowns are magic in this universe and the eggs contain not only their energy, but their souls. There is an ancient saying amongst clowns, “A clown that doesn’t finish a party cannot rest in peace.” So, once Tom decides to throw a party, Stitches is bound to come back as a vengeful spirit to see his party to the end.
In addition to being referential yet original, the film is very tongue in cheek. Every line seemed to lead to a pun either spoken or told visually, including someone asking, “Where is Paul?” right after he is beheaded. His head is then thrown into a pond by old uncle Stichy. We then get the response to the question, “He is floating around somewhere”, as we cut to his head surfacing in the pond. Get it?! I actually did laugh out loud at most of the death scenes, though I do think they could have been more gratuitous. That poor cat certainly didn’t deserve what he got. When the party started really raging, I began to hope for a group death scene of the party goers, but was ultimately disappointed in just how many kids got to live.
The movie is great for a laugh and certainly a fun watch for fans of the horror genre. Some of the deaths were downright hilarious, like turning a teen’s head into a balloon and exploding it, or making balloon animals out of guts. At one point, Stitches strangled someone and proceeded to open their skull with a can opener as party goers danced to, “I just died in your arms tonight.” A second watch may be in order to catch all of the wonderful puns. The movie ends with Tom finding out about the eggs and what they mean. He destroys Stitches’ egg and his evil avatar. It may not end there however, because at the very end of the film the Clown Monks glue the egg back together and, once complete, the egg solidifies. SPOOKY!
Overall, it was a very entertaining flick and I am certainly looking forward to a possible sequel.