After dying horrifically and accidentally at a child’s birthday party, a disaffected (and undead) clown – played by Ross Noble – is back for revenge. Six years after his death, Stitches the clown is going to ruin another party.
Stitches is nominally a comedy, in that things happen in it that are ridiculous. You aren’t meant to take it seriously, and the whole thing is over-the-top and slapstick. It won’t make you laugh much though. In a sense, it rather mirrors clowns themselves: everything they are doing is technically funny, but who really laughs?
It is a very violent one, in that cartoonish, buckets-of-blood way. Skulls are opened, knives go graphically into faces, testicles are torn off. It’s all obviously not real, but it is very graphic. More so than you’d expect, really, particularly for clown films, which I always think of as aiming for creepy rather than gory. If you want a gory film, that’s a selling point, I guess. The murders tend to be inventive, even poetic, so each victim gets what they deserve.
I’m not a fan, particularly, of Ross Noble; his standup leaves me cold – though I will say that I have never met anyone else who both has heard of him and dislikes him. It might just be me. Regardless of my preference, he’s very well cast here – he manages creepy and humorous in equal measure, flipping between farcical and genuinely threatening.
With regards to the other characters – the pool of potential victims – the film takes the time to characterise all of them as awful and deserving of death. From the sordid, sullen clown to the screaming, vicious children, it’s difficult to sympathise with anyone. Even the protagonist is a bit of a creepy stalker. That has one great benefit, in that you can enjoy/endure the slapstick without worrying about the characters, but does mean that it is harder to get invested in the plot.
The basic plot, of course, is simple: undead clown murders teens. But it is complicated with a partially-revealed backstory of ancient clown cults; the film makes use of the idea of an egg registry for unique clown faces, which is apparently a real thing. It’s not an angle explored in too much depth, with Stitches expecting us to take on faith that all clowns are potentially immortal murder ghosts, and that their headquarters happens to be in a plot-convenient location.
As a side note on location, this is an Irish film – set and filmed in Ireland. Despite this, every character sounds like they are doing a US approximation of an Irish accent. I do not know why this is so.
I didn’t love this film. I’m not really a fan of slapstick, and Stitches doesn’t really offer anything else. Everything is set up for gruesome and outlandish clown murder. It isn’t a bad film though – for a clown-based B-movie, it’s what you’d expect. Stitches is a film that perfectly fills its remit, with an unexpectedly well-acted monster. If you have any interest in horror films that intend to amuse rather than frighten, this would be one to go for.