New Releases for Tuesday, September 3, 2019
Gags the Clown
Genre: Horror/Found Footage
Directed by: Adam Krause
Run time: 89 minutes
The Lowdown: Like a swift-moving and silent scourge, clowns have reclaimed a perch near the top of the horror villain pecking order.
From a new iteration of Pennywise to Art the Clown in Terrifier to the harrowing depravity of 8 Ball Clown, sadistic killer clowns have made a huge comeback in recent years.
None, however, have arrived with the mystery and menace of Gags the Clown, which just might be the scariest, funniest, most subversive clown-centric slasher yet.
Gags takes place in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The community is buzzing about a spate of creepy sightings where a garish clown holding a tuft of black balloons randomly appears, freaking people out.
The local news is all over the sightings, and intrepid, ambitious journalist Heather Duprey (Lauren Ashley Carter) is assigned to document each new twist in the on-going saga.
Carter has been on an impressive tear of late, starring in a series of films, including Darlin’ and Artik, that have challenged her to transform into characters that fans aren’t used to seeing her play.
Gags, however, ranks up there with her best work in the last four years (The Mind’s Eye, Darling and Imitation Girl). Carter is blisteringly funny, caustically bitchy and wholly undeterred by any obstacle that gets in the way of her nailing the story.
Everyone in Green Bay has an opinion about Gags the Clown, from the patrol officers racing from one frantic 9-1-1 call to the next to a right-wing a-hole podcaster named Charles Wright (Aaron Christensen), who provides director Adam Krause a conduit to infuse Gags with some timely social-political commentary.
The majority of Gags is shot using a variety of stationary and mobile recording devices, and the different lenses and vantage points help keep viewers off-balance while trying to figure out exactly what Gags is up to.
At times, it seems as if Gags is a living embodiment of an apt metaphor for our times; by going viral, he becomes a virus that infects people who watch his exploits via social media. The real virus, however, is contained inside his nasty balloons, which dispense a white powder once popped. That powder turns anyone close enough to breathe it in into a devout follower.
What’s also incredibly impressive about Gags the Clown is how well Krause juggles telling four separate stories that are all happening in real time, concurrent to one another, without any of the participants knowing they’re all basically being herded to the same destination.
As a longtime journalist, it also was wonderful to see a movie finally nail the banter that takes place between reporters and camera operators/photographers. Even better, Krause totally gets the bitter bile that reporters can feel for rivals at a competing newspaper or TV station, and the scenes featuring Carter and Zarai Perez, who plays rival reporter Rebecca Chambers, are simply sublime, including the pitch-perfect final shot.
Gags the Clown hits its high point as it rounds into a delirious, mind-bending third act that elevates and amplifies everything that’s come before. All of the central characters finally converge. The truth about Gags and his sinister plan is revealed. And Krause literally ends his amazing story with a bloody bang that you never see coming.
For a first-time feature director, Krause is definitely a name you will want to remember. And Gags the Clown is a film that you absolutely must own.
The Stuff You Care About: Hot chicks – Yes.
Nudity – No. Gore – Yes.
Drug use – No.
Bad Guys/Killers – Um, Gags the Clown? I mean, it’s in the title.
Buy/Rent – Buy it.
Booksmart (Fox, 102 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut is not just one of the funniest movies of 2019, it’s a genuinely sweet look at that scary precipice between high school and college and how the pressure of growing up coupled with the social influence of peers can combine to form a perfect storm of self-doubt and fuck-all bravado.
It's offensive that many people tried to simply label Booksmart as the female Superbad, even though the comparison is understandable. Booksmart is just as funny, if not more so, and it’s completely its own entity. It doesn’t need to be compared to a raunchy boy comedy to get attention. It is worthy of all the accolades on its own because it’s one of the best movies of its kind ever made.
Santana Live at US Festival
Now on Video-on-Demand:
6 Hot Chicks in a Warehouse (Indican Pictures, 93 minutes, Unrated, Video-on-Demand): BVB loves chick-fight movies. It’s our guilty little secret.
Some, like Raze, achieve cult classic status by presenting its life-or-death consequences with visceral aplomb. Others, like Kiss Kiss, succeed even when introducing a far-out premise like a secret government experiment to test a military enhancement drug on strippers, because they feature standout fight choreography.
6 Hot Chicks in a Warehouse is basically that, six attractive female models who get subdued by an ambitious amateur photographer and placed in cages and injected with a serum that makes them rage-fueled female combatants. It just doesn’t work because it lacks any character development, features subpar fights and the main antagonist is too inept to carry out such a grandiose scheme.
Clownado (Wild Eye Releasing, 99 minutes, Unrated, Video-on-Demand): There’s a lesson to be learned here, and we’ll call it the Sharknado effect.
If you’re going to use Mother Nature as the focal point for your horror movie, and in this case, create a whirling dervish populated by killer clowns, you should at least deliver on that promise quickly to keep viewers engaged.
Clownado fails to do that.
In fact, for the first 28 minutes of the movie, barely anything of significance happens, and that’s a big problem.