Year: 2016
Production Co: Dark Age Cinema
Director: Damien Leone
Writer: Damien Leone
Cast: David Howard Thornton, Jenna Kanell, Samantha Scaffidi, Catherine Corcoran

The USP of this slasher homage is all in the design of the killer, the in-camera craft and the structure of the plot.

David Howard Thornton as Art the Clown is writer/director Damien Leone's mission statement about a horror movie antagonist who has a unique and distinctive look and behaviour that makes him seem inhuman in his persistence and a thirst for killing that seems as elemental as breathing.

In doing so he's made a loving tribute not just to great cinematic slasher bad guys like Jason, Freddy and Michael, but the forms, aesthetic and structures their movies contained.

It's also full of the cliches from the slasher movement – obviously on purpose, and lovingly so – and a good sense of geography means you always know where the characters are. It doesn't overstay its welcome, has a least one kill scene you'll almost want to look away from and just enough set pieces and characters to fill a brisk running time.

We meet Art creating himself, putting on the greasepaint makeup and what looks to be fake teeth, the outfit that's identifiably a clown suit but definitely the horror movie version of one, and setting out with his plastic bag of nasty tools.

Then the film cuts to Tara (Jenna Kanell) and Dawn (Catherine Corcoran), having had too much to drink after partying one dark and windy Halloween night, debating whether or not they're in any condition to drive and the wilder Dawn baiting her friend about her sexually charged and irresponsible exploits.

The pair go to an all night pizzeria to try and sober up a bit and Art comes in and sits down, staring balefully at them with his half smile, half rictus of pain, unnerving Tara no end, who – when Art goes into the bathroom – finally convinces Dawn to leave so they can just sit in the car and wait.

After they leave, the manager explodes in a rage, manhandling Art out of the store and making reference to an unthinkable mess he's made in the bathroom. He orders his underling to go and clean it up, and when the guy finally does so and emerges Art's true nature is revealed, the manager's head removed from his body and propped on the counter with candles inside it like a Halloween pumpkin.

While he's screaming and trying to get away, Art sets upon the guy and stabs him violently to death, leaving you in no doubt that this isn't a horror comedy like a lot of these kinds of efforts end up but a nasty, brutal slasher movie, preparing you somewhat from the infamous hacksaw scene (but only just).

Tara and Dawn get back to their car to find the tyres slashed so Tara calls her sister Victoria (Samantha Scaffidi), a straight laced bookworm who has 'final girl' written all over her, to come and pick them up.

Dying for the ladies room, Tara convinces a pest control worker they see nearby to let her into a creepy abandoned apartment building he's about to start working in, and as she encounters the even creepier crazy old homeless lady who lives inside and believes a baby doll she's carrying to be her human child, Art strikes outsides and drags Dawn off.

As Tara's trying to get her way back outside Art comes after her too, capturing her after a lengthy and scary sequence of her hiding in a mechanic's workshop. But he captures and sedates Tara and she wakes up to find Dawn strung up by her feet nearby, Art entering the scene to deliver her terrible fate with his hacksaw (yes, it'd exactly what you're imagining).

It sets off a story full of tension and fright (but a curiously effective and welcome lack of obtuse jump scares) of Tara trying to get outside, the pest control guy inside, his boss coming to check on him because he can't raise him, the cray lady and her baby and Victoria arriving to find the girls and throwing herself unknowingly into danger.

The cliches it's full of – ones that make you want to yell at the screen' just get out of there!' and 'just turn around' – are expertly deployed and just as much a love letter to the slasher movement as the design of the villain.

If you ever loved those video nasty flicks or want to appreciate how there's still a love for them and their trappings (practical effects, the smart and pretty female protagonist, etc), look no further. Some reviews complained about it not having a story worthy of such an iconic villain, but they all missed the point.

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