Anyone who has ever seen Ross Noble perform one of his wacky stand-up routines will expect nothing less than the crazily surreal character Stitches the clown in his upcoming film of the same name. No other actor or comedian could out-clown Noble; a man who can talk in such perfectly wound tangents as to make a routine based on gluing meat to the face seem coherent. In this Irish co-produced film, his fantastical vision transfers perfectly to screen, with the help of Conor McMahon and David O’Brien’s comedy-horror script and a talented young cast.
Coming up to Halloween the spoof-style take on those most paralysing and widespread phobias, clowns and teenage house parties, may be a sufficient form of celebration. Honouring teen-horror prototype, the film revolves around a strange creature risen from the dead and in search for revenge. Cantankerous Stitches arrives at a children’s birthday party only to find the children are not amused by his tricks. Frustrated by their heckling, Stitches descends into a fit of rage that leads to his accidental death with a kitchen knife through the eye. Many years pass without disturbance but as the host’s sixteenth birthday approaches, Stitches is unearthed to make another party appearance.
Though the bawdy humour is often more directed at late teens upwards, the violent encounters point towards the gory imagination of a young boy. Entrails are made into balloon animals, heads are blown-up with bicycle pumps, bullies are decapitated and the fat kid has his head dissected with a can opener. Of course, all deaths are followed by a corny pun or two as Noble capers around the teen-invaded home slaying the inhabitants.
Tommy Knight and Gemma-Leah Devereux are nicely paired as Tom, the traumatised birthday boy, and Kate, his love interest. Unusually for a (future fringe cult) slasher, there is quite a strong emotional investment in their relationship. Still in a state of distress and in constant wait of the clown’s return, Tom is in dire need of a new routine that doesn’t involve peering into the graveyard through a microscope.
Most of the grotesque displays are embellished to the point of cartoonish violence, which is what makes it so amusing. Stitches’ make-up, however, is chillingly realistic minus the clown face paint. The perennial dichotomy of the unhappy clown is given an entertaining make-over in Stitches, a film sure to be Halloween’s best gallows-humour flick. Stitches is in cinemas from 26 October. Watch the trailer now on MEG.ie.