"We've seen killer clowns before at the movies but Noble's Stitches really does feel fresh and original"
Stitches is a horror comedy directed by Conor McMahon and stars Geordie comedian Ross Noble as the titular clown. Richard 'Stitches' Grindle isn't exactly the most child friendly entertainer, a fact we learn very early on as the opening scene of the film see's Stitches 'enjoying' the company of a lady in his caravan, fag in mouth!
We've seen killer clowns before at the movies but Noble's Stitches really does feel fresh and original, partly down to his comedic sensibilities as a stand up, and partly because of the clowns scummy persona. As he warily performs his routine in front of a baying mob of bored kiddies, the fed up Sitches simply takes the abuse and you actually feel a bit sorry for him!
The rough storyline see's Stitches arriving late for young Tommy's birthday party, however as Stitches begins his routine the kids are understandably unimpressed with his antiquated clowning techniques and have much more fun bullying the poor clown. An open dishwasher with an upturned kitchen knife and Stitches having his shoe laces tied together culminates in the rather unfortunate and extremely gory death of the clown.
Fast forward 10 years later and the same group of kids are now in their teens and Tommy is celebrating his 16th birthday party and even better he's got a free house! Thanks to an open invite on a social networking site, uptight Tommy has to deal with the dozens of party crashers, winning over childhood sweetheart Kate, as well as the unwelcome appearance of Stitches the clown who has one last trick up his sleeve!
Stitches certainly comes into it's own once the kids are grown up and director Conor McMahon creates a teen comedy atmosphere, think the Inbetweeners meets Father Ted! I can't help but think if this were an English film, it could easily seem trite and over the top but the quirky Irish-ness of it really works in the films favour, as such everything from the countryside location's to the Irish colloquialisms "this party's deadly!" give it that extra dimension of humour.
Horror comedy is a tough genre to get right, with Shaun Of The Dead holding the unbeaten title for a film in that genre, however Stitches makes a valiant attempt to create something that's is both funny as well as genuinely scary, although it definitely leans more towards the funny than scary.
Once you witness the first revenge killing enacted by Stitches, it's quite clear the film isn't taking itself too seriously, and when you start to get on board with that you really just enjoy it for what it is. For my money it's those ridiculous and excessively silly moments in the film that really make the experience that much more enjoyable, for instance the film is heavy with sight gags and visual comedy reminiscent of a Monty Python sketch or the Naked Gun films.
As the teenagers are picked off one by one, each becoming increasingly over the top and gory topped off with some fantastic one liners from Stitches , a personal favourite being just after he impales a girl with an umbrella through the eye "taken from behind!" he proclaims thrusting his hips as a party blower extends out of his flies!
The only slight issue I had was that it didn't seem entirely necessary for all the characters to die, while some clearly had it coming such as the bullies, Paul and his girlfriend in particular the rest of Tommy's friends who had been witness to Stitches death years ago didn't really do much to warrant such hostility from the resurrected clown!
Despite that, you can quite easily forgive those narrative discrepancies as each death is a gloriously outlandish thing to behold and you find yourself hoping for Stitches to strike again! All in all, Stitches is an ambitiously cinematic film from director Conor McMahon, and although Ross Noble's Stitches may not be the scariest movie clown, he's certainly of the funniest!