Directed by Conor McMahon. Starring Ross Noble, Tommy Knight, Gemma-Leah Devereux, Eoghan McQuinn, John McDonnell 16 cert, general release, 87 min
THE LATEST horror from Irish blood-fiend Conor McMahon features a scary clown. Is there any other kind? You don’t need to have read Stephen King’s It or seen the cult classic Killer Klowns from Outer Space to feel slightly uneasy about this supposedly jolly class of entertainer. Now, a film about a nice clown really would be worth seeing.
Anyway, Ross Noble, making his acting debut, is pretty effective as a children’s entertainer who – after dying in an amusingly unlikely accident – rises from the grave to butcher guests at a teenage party. Though an engaging comic, the Tyneside surrealist has a deranged edge that suits the material nicely. Eyes stare menacingly through matted northern hair.
Sadly, the film is so sloppily made and scruffily scripted that Noble’s efforts are largely wasted. Director of the amusing Dead Meat and the effective The Disturbed, McMahon continues to demonstrate a gift for the bloodily disgusting set piece.
It’s almost worth seeing Stitches to witness the antagonist’s experiments in fashioning “balloon animals” from unwilling intestines. Some poor guest’s head gets fatally inflated in disturbingly graphic fashion.
Tommy Knight is reasonably effective as the kid – a potential Final Guy? – who has never quite got over his involvement in the clown’s initial demise.The dynamics of the American high school are amusingly transplanted to an Irish Nowhere. But these decent touches fail to distract from the film’s insecure superstructure.
Again and again, key lines are scrambled. When we can actually hear what the actors are saying we find ourselves half-wishing the dialogue had remained obscure. The jokes are clumsy and sometimes a tad offensive. The language never finds any original rhythms.
To be fair, Stitches is the kind of picture that would play perfectly well on DVD to an audience well lubricated by malt liquor. Unfortunately (presumably as a result of Noble’s involvement) it finds itself cruelly exposed to commercial distribution. Save it for home viewing next Halloween.