Review: Aaron Mirtes’ Clowntergeist

Smart move, High Octane Pictures. Smart move. The remake of Stephen King’s IT is hitting theaters worldwide on September 8, 2017, but not everyone has the money nor the desire to see the big budget movie in cinemas. Maybe you’re an independent horror fan who’d rather wait until it comes out on home media to save yourself the trouble of obnoxious seat-kickers and over-priced snacks. But, will there be an alternative to the killer clown to hold you over to 2018? Look no further than Aaron Mirtes’ Clowntergeist, which was surprisingly the best killer clown flick since Jon Watt’s Clown in 2014. Honest, I wasn’t expecting much from this Exit 10 Films production, but I found Clowntergeist to be suspenseful, scary, and creepy as Hell. This film is hitting VOD on September 12 and it’s the closest thing you’ll find to IT that’s actually worth your time.

Oddly enough, the thing I liked the most about Clowntergeist was that it’s homey. It takes place in a small town, often in a mom-and-pop ice cream store, and that just resonated with me for some reason. The curfew scene, particularly, showcased my sentiments. The characters are normal, well-rounded kids and not archetypes of stereotypical horror film cannon fodder. No flash and sass, just real people in the clutches of an ominous, big shoe’d force of evil. I never thought I’d call a movie like this charming, but it’s certainly a fitting description. The small town charm took me back to The Golden Age of Horror when things were simpler and a single murder could blow a community apart. Oh, I just loved this. I’m one of those people who start Halloween season on September 1 every year, so Clowntergeist was the perfect way to kick off the festivities.

The second thing I liked the most about Clowntergeist was how it went about incorporating the chills and thrills into the plot. This is more than your standard shock and awe horror film. Nipping at the edges of the story were several famous urban legends like the dog under the bed and the clown statue. If you’ve never heard of them, I’d suggest looking them up online! The villain in Clowntergeist is more Freddy Krueger in nature than anything else. The majority of the movie he spends his time scaring and tormenting the kids without causing them bodily harm. It reminded me of how the sweater-wearing, knife-fingered slasher had to build up fear and energy before he could manifest correctly. When our villain here, Ribcage The Clown, does manifest, often-times he’s slower, hunched over, and moaning, which ultimate face-paints a really creepy killer. Writer/director Aaron Mirtes geniously created an original and effective character that – thank god – never went overboard with the clown aspect.

At first I was a little apprehensive about the way the suspense was introduced in the movie, but eventually I realized just how effective the maneuvers were. Several attack and chase scenes, ironically, happen very slowly and allow for the suspense to build up at a rapid pace. At first I thought it was too slow, until I found my heart beating so fast waiting for the inevitable to happen. Some sequences are long, for instance the opening scenes, but they are suspenseful as fuck! Not only that, but Clowntergeist contains a rare ‘during the day’ attack and that’s something completely out of the ordinary, just like this film is. Ribcage The Clown hulking behind the counter, or knocking on the window at night, lead the way for crazy, awesome, and upsetting visuals that were colorful and flashy. For an independent production, the cinematography by Chaz Oliver and the overall look were on point here.

It was also nice to see Brittany Belland and Burt Culver star in another horror film. I instantly recognized Belland from 2012’s The Sleeper and Culver from 2015’s BASTARD. They star in Clowntergeist alongside Monica Baker, Burt Culver, Sean Patrick Murray, Tom Seidman, Eric Corbin, Johnjay Fitih and Caitlyn Rigney. Clowntergiest doesn’t have a high body count, but – again, it’s effective scary, suspenseful and scintillating. It was produced by Aaron Mirtes (who also edited), Nathan Johnson, Chaz Oliver and Elena Trueba with executive producers Bradley Alan and Nic Dugger. I know some people will criticize the this movie, because that’s just what people do, but I’m really going to stand by my sentiments. This could be one of the best independent horror titles of 2017. A colorful, creepy and satisfying gem that’s one of the most successful killer clown movies in years. The perfect Halloween story. Horror Society approved! Final Score: 8.5 out of 10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)