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Review: CLOWN FEAR (2020)

I thought killer clown films had run their course or at least gone into hibernation until the release of Terrifier 2. So along comes Clown Fear, formerly Circus Road, to prove me wrong. And it not only features a cast of familiar faces but a clan of inbred clowns as well. Is it a fitting coda to the cycle, or a tired last gasp?

Carlee (Sadie Katz, Hanukkah, Hacksaw) and Thomas (Gianni Capaldi, Hell On The Border, Among The Shadows) are getting married. Until things fall apart at the altar, that is. Carlee and her bridesmaids Mia (Augie Duke, Necropolis: Legion, Eminence Hill), Amber (Tiffani Fest, Circus of the Dead, For Jennifer) and Nicole (Nikki Kris) decide the best way to get over it is a road trip. Which, of course, ends up with a wrecked car.

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However, the girls are in luck. They’re right across from the Clown Inn, a clown-themed hotel. They check in and are befriended by the girl at the desk, Kat (Courtney Akbar, Astro, Morbid Stories). But, as we all know, when clowns are involved, things never end well.

Let’s get this out of the way first, at an hour and fifty minutes, Clown Fear is way too long. Director Minh Collins (Hit List, Fables for the Witching Hour) and co-writer/star Sadie Katz really needed to do a lot of trimming before filming their script. There are way too many scenes that drag on too long or aren’t needed at all, probably close to half an hour’s worth.

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And that’s probably the reason the film is taking a beating on IMDB. Because once you strip out the bloat, Clown Fear is a perfectly watchable film. It’s no classic, but it’s far from deserving a 3.4 rating. The cast is strong and does a good job with their roles. Apart from those I’ve named already, there are other familiar faces such as Elissa Dowling (Children of Camp Blood, Rootwood), Randy Wayne (Mope, Hellraiser: Judgment) and Sarah French (Automation, Art Of The Dead) in the cast.

The villains are at least a bit more interesting than the standard grease painted psychopaths. Descended from evil circus clowns and carnies, they’ve cut themselves off from society. Killing most passersby whom they think look down on them. With their carnival-style ritual near the end, Clown Fear at times feels something like 2000 Maniacs and The Hills Have Eyes in greasepaint.

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Clown Fear doesn’t skimp on the blood or the skin, either. There are some nasty, and mostly on-screen kills, rendered with practical effects. A few of the deaths could have benefited from a bit more in the way of effects, but for the most part, they work. There are also plenty of shower/bath/skinny dipping scenes that, for once, don’t tease. This isn’t PG-13 horror.

If you don’t mind putting the fast-forward button to use, Clown Fear will deliver an enjoyable time. It’s currently available on VOD, Digital and DVD from Lionsgate. Check the film’s Facebook page for more details.

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