Clownface (2019)

Alex Bourne is a British filmmaker that indie-horror fans and streamers have spent time with before, courtesy of his multi-nominated-winning debut feature film The House of Screaming Death (2017), which served as his homage to the British Gothic Horror anthologies of the ‘60s and ‘70s. His welcomed return to the streaming-verse is this homage to American ‘80s slashers — with a touch of Italian giallo — about a legendary, deranged serial killer known as “Clownface” (British stuntman Philip John Bailey) terrorizing a small town.

As with the past “urban legends” surrounding ‘80s slashers: no one speaks of Clownface, as the deaths and disappearance by his hand are written off as run-of-mill disappearances, disenchanted runaways, and accidents. Yes, the townsfolk scoff at and chase off anyone who comes to town asking questions.

The story starts a year after the abduction of Zoe, with her friend, Jenna, teaming up with Owen, a survivor of a Clownface attack ten years earlier. Both are convinced that, not only is Clownface real, but Zoe is alive and held captive — as Clownface searches for the “perfect flesh” to construct real-life masks to cover his disfigured face.

While Clownface wants to be a British Halloween and is affable in its homages, what it lacks in Carpenter-finesse or Argento-tact is effectively compensated by well-executed in-camera effects (and a very creepy mask) and the cinematography is sharp and solid above the usual horror-streaming norms. So what we end up with is more like Tobe Hooper’s slasher cop-in, The Funhouse, which was a well-done film that’s respected in some quarters, but certainly not revered as an ’80s “slasher classic.”

As with most unknown, new-to-thespin’ actors in these streamers, the acting is a bit strained in spots; they’re not great, but not awful either. But kudos to Bourne for his killer going the Leatherface-route and making his mask from victims, as opposed to just painting on a crazy clown face (like the recent, lot-of-fun Clown Fear) or wearing a crazy-clown Halloween mask (like The Funhouse).

And Clownface brings on the rock ‘n’ roll with the ’80s-esque appropriate song “Video Nasty”* by Lesbian Bed Death as its theme song; the band briefly appears in the film — with one of its members meeting a graphic end courtesy of Clownface. And you know how we dig being turned onto new, indie tuneage via an indie film. Clownface is a worthy streamer, indeed.

Clownface hits streaming platforms on August 18 courtesy of Wild Eye Releasing. *And be sure to join us for our three part series of reviews of the films released during the early 1980’s U.K. video scare “Exploring: Video Nasties.” (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).

Disclaimer: We were provided a screener by the film’s P.R firm. That has no bearing on our review.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies and publishes on Medium.

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