Movie review: Stitches

Steve Bennett on Ross Noble's horror debut

Stitches joins a venerable canon of scary clowns, from Stephen King's IT, to The Joker, to Psychoville's Mr Jelly – and director Conor McMahon is well aware of the fact.

His film is, depending on your view of the genre, either a tongue-in-cheek pastiche of all those Eighties straight-to-video slasher flicks; or merely a rehashing of the same old gore.

As fictional children's entertainers always are, Stitches The Clown is woefully inappropriate for children's parties, which get in the way of his drinking, smoking and shagging. But some of is bitterness is explained if his audiences are anything like the little shits who constantly interrupt his weary attempts to entertain Tom's tenth birthday party.

The boisterousness goes out of hand and in keeping with the old mothers’ warning 'you'll have someone's eye out' poor old Stitches sufferers an horrific injury, before popping his oversize clogs completely.

Or not quite, as he returns – after rather a sluggish half-hour or so – as a killer zombie clown. It’s now six years later, when the kids are now teenagers having, what else?, a house party. And this is when the fun really begins.

Stitches works his way through the young cast in a series of gut-churningly gruesome slayings, which, although bloody have a certain cartoony quality –and not just with the spring-loaded fists or clown nose that rather sillily ‘sniffs out’ victims. It’s like a live-action version of an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon where the consequences are very real.

Some of the most horrific moments come with the puns, though, as Noble’s killer greets each death with the sort of awful wordplay that the writers of Roger Moore era James Bond might consider too cheesy.

Amid some rather dodgy acting from the young cast (with a couple of exceptions in Gemma-Leah Devereux and Roisin Barron), it falls on Noble to carry the film. He keeps his zaniness in check, an instead captures a downbeat, enervated drudgery of trying to ieep kids entertained –  or of pursing his prey. ‘Ooof, ya bastard,’ becomes something of a catchphrase as he struggles with the physical demands of wreaking his revenge.

He’s not an especially chilling character, unless you already have a phobia of clowns; but the movie as a whole is not about psychological suspense; but gross-out gore with a few stupidly inventive methods of slaughter.

It’s probably one for hardened fans of the horror genre, or of Noble himself, more than comedy aficionados or a more general audience.

  • Stitches is out on Friday. Click here for an interview with Noble.

Published: 23 Oct 2012

Live comedy picks

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.