Apocalypse Clown review: This Irish comedy horror will play forever to beered-up students

Director George Kane is a fine craftsman who knows how to get the best out of comic actors in unlikely situations

Apocalypse Clown
Apocalypse Clown
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Director: George Kane
Cert: 15A
Starring: David Earl, Natalie Palamides, Amy De Bhrún, Fionn Foley, Tadgh Murphy, Ivan Kaye
Running Time: 1 hr 42 mins

You can’t fault George Kane for failing to fling everything in his kitbag at the metaphorical wall here. There is a great deal about clowns (obviously). The film also joshes a reporter with ideas above her station (Amy De Bhrún). A couple of statue mimes leave their podiums and get involved in unaccustomed action. “Tim from Bromanz” (Tadhg Murphy), as he is known throughout, gets to look back sadly at his time in a boy band. Oh, and there is – or appears to be – a sort of Apocalypse. That’s value for money in a modestly budgeted Irish flick.

The miracle is that most of it sticks. Kane is a fine craftsman. A director on TV series such as Inside No 9 and Crashing and of the amusing mockurockumentary Discoverdale, from 2012, he knows how to get the best out of comic actors in unlikely situations. The script, which he co-wrote, takes a party of clowns across the midlands after a solar catastrophe deprives the nation of power. The team is to be commended for including the entire, often unhappy spectrum of clowning. Ivan Kaye is a pompous big-tent clown of the old school. David Earl is the sort that “entertains” at children’s parties. Natalie Palamides is part scary horror-movie clown and part avant-garde clown from alternative circus. You couldn’t launch such a project without – Fionn Foley takes on those duties – a pretentious git who has studied l’art du clown at some French conservatory.

All make the best of their roles, but Palamides, winner of best newcomer at Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2018, steels the title of MVP (MVC?). Emanating from some non-specific corner of central Europe, her Funzo trades in an antic derangement that does more to unnerve than amuse those around her.

Apocalypse Clown is not the most attractive film you will encounter this season. Shot in bleak fields and deserted piles, it often has the look of an extended television episode. But, by winning best Irish film at the recent Galway Film Fleadh, it confirmed that it plays well to an audience in the right sort of mood. The best comedy horror on this theme since Killer Klowns from Outer Space, it will play forever to beered-up students. No small thing.

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist