It’s October, and Halloween season is upon us.
Growing up and living in England in the 80’s, halloween was seen as a commercial fad and something that should be tolerated if not ignored. However, as a horror fan since childhood and someone who revels in the creepy and macabre, it’s my favourite time of year, so we find ourselves with an influx of horror movies to enjoy and discuss.
Todays offering, thanks to the good folk at uncork’d entertainment, is “Circus Kane”. Now, if your into the horror genre, and have eyes, you can’t help but have noticed that clowns are the flavour of the month at the moment, and since John Wayne Gacy introduced “pogo” to the world, clowns have been inherently scary. The promo cover does nothing to dissuade you from that idea.
Our movie starts with the introduction of one Balthazar Kane as the ringmaster of a circus of horrors, aimed at terrifying its audience into enjoyment presumably. Kane is mentoring a child on the techniques of showmanship and magic in the way of a master to an apprentice. The timeline then cuts to a young woman, covered in blood, being interviewed by the police after some kind of horrible experience. Through various cuts and jumps we are then introduced to a series of other characters who will become the main players in a competition of survival, according to a series of text messages received by each, like willy Wonka style golden tickets, with the prize for said survival being $250,000 dollars.
Our players meet at a designated place, make the plot necessary introductions, and are then collected and taken to what, I suppose, is meant to be a creepy old mansion, but is just a rather nice mansion that happened to be available for external shots. We are then taken inside to begin a room by room survival horror that nobody knows they’re in till it begins.
Thats the basic plot and I don’t really want to give anything else away. On its surface, this is a familiar and well trodden genre that covers all of the expected ground. The performance of Tim Abell as Balthazar Kane is both compelling and enjoyable, but also has a stink of Otis from rob zombies house of a thousand corpses and devils rejects to it, and Mark Christopher Lawrence as Gamer billy, provides a lot of the early comic relief, albeit in the obvious and predictable ways.
The rest of the characters are the usual horror tropes, adapted to the social media generation. The characters are introduced to the audience by Kane via rhyme. We have a reviewer, a blogger, a collector, a scream queen, a gamer, a rocker, a blogger again( presumably because the writers couldn’t think of a different rhyme for blogger), and a teen, because, rhyming scheme.
The actors are composed of, with the exception of the comic relief, blandly good looking male stereo types and various versions of Ferris Bueller’s girlfriend from different multiverses. The overall feel of the movie feels like a version of “SAW” directed by Rob Zombie.
Despite the sceptical paragraphs above, I couldn’t help enjoying this movie despite myself. Yes, it’s predictable. Yes, It’s derivative. But it’s really fun. It knows what it is and it’s not afraid to shout it in your face.
Everyone’s trying to make that once in a generation movie that changes everything. This isn’t that. This is horror comfort food, and I loved it.
Captain J Spaulding.