Review by Jude Felton
It seems to me that every other week I am watching or reviewing a clown-related horror flick. This is no bad thing though as, let’s face it, clowns kick ass. Maybe it’s the hidden dark side behind the face paint, the silent anguish of a misunderstood and unloved person. Or maybe it’s just it’s cool as hell to see the multi-colored bastards hack people up?
Next up in the firing line is the Irish horror/comedy, Stitches, which aims to tickle your funny bones, as well as splatter the screen with gore. And I will tell you what; it succeeds on both counts, as it is an absolute blast to watch.
The plot, which is wonderfully simple, revolves around the washed up party clown, Stitches, and an ill-fated appointment at young Tommy’s birthday party. All the kids are spoiled little bastards, and treat Stitches with the utmost contempt. Push comes to a literal shove, and in a freak accident Stitches is no more; he is a dead clown.
Little do we know though that there is a secret coven of clowns that bring the unfortunate Stitches back to life, and he has only one thing on his mind; cold blooded vengeance. He will wait a few years though, so that the kids have time to reach their teenage years, thus being able to incorporate plenty of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Hey, it’s is a horror flick, after all!
The whole vengeance angle has been done to death, in every shape and form, especially when it involves a group of teenagers, which it invariably does. What makes this film any different, and what makes it succeed so well, is the lead performance from Ross Noble as Stitches. This is one funny guy, and he gives an absolute gem of a performance. Throwing one-liners around like a 80s Arnie flick, and spraying the screen with claret as he disposes of his victims in all manner of wonderfully colorful ways.
The humor is outrageous, the kills are gruesome and inventive and the majority of the kids are obnoxious assholes. So, you’ll probably find yourself cheering on Stitches on his mission of revenge. I know I was!
Now, even though there is a strong comedic vein that runs deep throughout the film, there is also plenty of attention paid to keeping it firmly in the world of horror. Stitches is a creepy looking blighter, especially when he comes back from the dead, and there is also a cold-hearted mean streak to him, much in the same way as there was to Alex Chandon’s Inbred, although it is not quite as mean as that film.
Even so, you’ll find yourself laughing along one second, and then you’ll be gasping in surprise at what happens next. The story itself might not be particularly original, but it is what writer/director Conor McMahon has added into the plot that helps it work so well. The little touches here and there, which give it a sense of its own identity. Sure, it’s a slasher film with a clown, not totally unlike Marcus Koch’s 100 Tears, although that was a straight-ahead slasher flick, whereas Stitches never loses sight of the fact that a lot of it is played for laughs, as well as scares.
Personally, I though Stitches was the mutts’ nuts, and quite honestly Ross Noble’s performance should, if there is any justice, takes its place in modern horror cinema folklore. Hell, if a bloody Leprechaun can get a franchise, though weak films, then a role of this caliber definitely deserves the recognition. Stitches is a beer and pizza with the friends type movie, and if you can watch it together with Inbred, all the better.
In a time where horror can take itself far too seriously, Stitches has come along to help us all lighten the hell up. This is an almost perfect blend of scares, laughs and good old fashioned gore, that all looks and sounds great on Dark Sky Films' Blu-ray release.
Stitches is released on Blu-ray and DVD by Dark Sky Films on April 2nd.