Amusement
SCARY CLOWN MOVIE. 2007
Director: Keith Parish

AMUSEMENT. 2009
Director: John Simpson

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



Scary Clown MovieA three-minute-plus youtube film inspired by an urban legend, Scary Clown Movie (2007) shows a babysitter (Caitlin Apple) with a little girl (Lexy Mehalik) seated on the floor, playing with crayons in the basement wreck-room.

The girl is drawing a clown -- the very life-size clown-doll (Dereck M. Javorka) slumped on the couch of the next room. The babysitter closes the door between rooms, so as not to see the clown, which is unsettling.

She rushes upstairs to answer the phone & its the parents she is babysitting for. She mentions the full-sized clown sitting on the basement couch & the mom says on the phone they don't have such a thing. And momentarily it is discovered the clown is gone -- & the child with him.

Though a minor piffle, Scary Clown Movie is well enough made it deserves at least to be preserved on dvd as an "extra" with one or another evil clown feature film.



Amusement The incohesive, generally incoherent Amusement (2009) had been slated for theatrical release until the distributor actually viewed it.

It was kicked down to straight-to-video, with a plot synopsis on the box that has very little relationship to the plotless film, though we can only pity the copy-writer who was asked to make sense of nonsense.

Shelby (Laura Breckenridge) & her boyfriend on the open road are tricked into following a truckdriver to an isolated location.

He already has a girl (Shauna Duggins) imprisoned in the back of his truck. We figure the trucker's a psycho but things aren't necessarily what they appear to be.

This self-contained introductory sequence concludes with a "surprise" that's not the least surprising. Films as poorly written as this one, even by being irrational story-wise, generally can't find tricks that work. Reliance on tricks instead of stories well-told injurs more microbudget movies than they repair.

AmusementThough packaged & advertised as an evil clown movie, the portion of the film with the clown is self-contained, virtually a second short-subject imbedded in the feature.

After Shelby's horrific adventure, the film switches to another young woman, Tabitha (Katheryn Winnick), visiting her aunt's family one night only to find her two annoying nephews are alone. Their babysitter has gone missing, so Tabi fills in.

The boys have an extensive collection of revolting clown dolls & puppets. One of these is lifesized & especially hideous, posed in a chair with a concertina.

After Tabitha puts the boys to bed, moody photography & telegraphing soundtrack gives us the impression someone else is in the house.

AmusementSo of course Tabi gets undressed in front of the scary clown & goes to bed in the guest room, where the doll collection is kept.

Again there are no surprises here. Even if there's some viewer somewhere on earth who hasn't already heard that particular urban folk tale, it's just so obvious the clown's not part of the collection, but is a psycho in costume. The only thing "new" to the hoary tale is some fairly intense weaponry.

These first two stories seemingly have no relationship to one another. It's like we just sat through two short subjects, neither of them particularly good, though the evil clown is at least well designed to be legitimately repugnant.

The script does eventually try to tie the hodgepodge together with the generic idea that there's a psycho abroad who wants to kill a specific group of young women & incidentally anyone who is with them. It's the sort of rationale that imposes no story structure nor story value, but permits any random killings to be tacked together.

AmusementThe third tale is about LIsa (Jessica Lucas) whose best friend has gone missing.

She believes her friend is in a run-down gothic hotel, so she & her boyfriend begin to investigate. The building for this sequence is spectacular, a found-location in Hungary, a country that encourages the arrival of low budget filmmakers.

Though it's taken long enough, the gore begins to get imaginative at last, as an extremely bizarre giant music box kills Lisa's boyfriend. Thus Lisa's soon looking for two rather than one missing person. It never occurs to her to get the hell out of there or go to the police rather than wander about uninvited in a building no one ever leaves.

Would-be bad filmmakers take note this is another gimmick to keep an inept script at least filmable, make the characters so amazingly stupid that their stupidity explains why they do stuff no one would ever do.

Thinly tying the portions together too late for it to matter, we eventually know the central victims Shelby, Lisa & Tabitha were friends since childhood. The nameless psycho (Keir O'Donnell) wants them all dead over some imbeclic childhood incident.

AmusementAfter the three individual stories are told in a loose chaotic manner, we find out that the girls were not actuallly slain, but captured for the sake of a big climactic sequence.

As Tabitha explores the weird sets where the victims are kept prisoners, the psycho is creating hideous diaramas of tortured flesh. As minor-league torture-porn, the film actually gets a bit better, with the psycho unexpectedly creative. The "tricks" & twists actually begin to work. So if you can plod through the boring bits for the first hour, know at least that it does improve before it's over.

Usually a film this badly written also has low standards in every other category. Surprisingly this one has slick production values, great sets or locations which we can ascribe the the Hungarians, & acting that's actually decent. These qualities are undermined by the ridiculousness of the script.

In stitching together multiple stories, all were left with irrational loose ends, & it needlessly busies the viewer trying to figure out if these disparate parts actually fit together. Even though the psycho events in the hotel are cool enough to justify time spent watching Amusement, one can't stop wondering at a film can superficially appear to be competent if you just look at the visuals, yet all of it wasted on an awful, awful screenplay.

The film is saved from a "turd alert" thanks to the set designs for the finale, & I can recommend the movie to anyone who tends to be forgiving of cheezy horror. Neither the incompetent screenwriter nor the inept director did a job worth doing, but Hungarian location scouts, carpenters, & art directors (who I imagine the director couldn't even talk to through a language barrier) knew what they were doing. So Amusement ended up a far better-looking film than the dreary script merited.

Go to the next evil clown:
100 Tears (2007)

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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