A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Clown is a mean-spirited horror movie about a good dad who unwisely puts on a demonic clown suit for his son's birthday party and ends up trying to kill children. The character is punished for his deeds, even though he's more a victim of bad luck than anything. Violence is gory and gruesome, with children killed, lots of blood, severed limbs, broken limbs, decapitations (both dog and human), vomiting of bones and blood, and power saws and sledgehammers used as weapons. The bad guy also starts to rip into a woman's stomach to get at her unborn baby. Language is also strong, with several uses of "f--k" and "s--t" and kids swearing. A husband and wife share an intimate moment on the couch; she straddles him and they kiss. A character drinks drugged tea and passes out.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
When a hired clown fails to show up for his son's birthday party, real estate agent Kent McCoy (Andy Powers) happens to find an old clown costume in a trunk at one of his properties. He dons it, saves the day, and then falls asleep with the suit on -- only to find in the morning that he can't get it off. His wife, Meg (Laura Allen), manages to remove the nose, but it takes a chunk of skin along with it. After more failed attempts, Kent finds the suit's previous owner, Herbert Karlsson (Peter Stormare), and discovers the truth: Kent has been possessed by a demon, and he must feed on children before the suit can come off. Will Kent succumb to the demon's wishes?
Is it any good?
While clowns are scary to many, filmmakers Christopher Ford and Jon Watts give the white-faced subject matter behind this loathsome horror movie only a cursory exploration; the result isn't much fun. (Frankly, the story behind Clown is actually better than the movie itself: Apparently director/writer Watts and co-writer Ford -- who later made Cop Car -- created a fake trailer for a non-existent movie, crediting it to Eli Roth. Roth saw it and commissioned an actual movie ... and also played a clown.)
The story could have been funny, which it isn't, or it could have been scary, which it also isn't. It could have been original, but it isn't that, either; it more or less uses the same historical idea as the terrific Krampus, about an evil demon morphing into a children's favorite. Instead, it callously focuses on grown-ups terrorizing children, particularly a father terrorizing his own child. It's no wonder this sat on the shelf for years.
Talk to your kids about ...
Is the movie scary? What's the appeal of scary movies?
Does the fact that this movie's victims are children change anything? Is it more or less scary?
Why do you think some people like clowns, while others are afraid of them?
At first the clown's wife tries to help him by doing something terrible; do you agree with what she did? Would you have done the same thing, or something different?
- In theaters: June 17, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: August 23, 2016
- Cast: Peter Stormare, Andy Powers, Laura Allen
- Director: Jon Watts
- Studios: Dimension, The Weinstein Company
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: horror violence and gore, and for language
- Last updated: December 10, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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