Directed By: Conor McMahon
Starring: Ross Noble, Tommy Knight, Eoghan McQuinn
Tag line: "You'll Die Laughing "
Trivia: Marked the movie debut of stand-up comedian Ross Noble
I’m not a big fan of clowns. It’s not that they scare me necessarily (some people are terrified of them), but they do make me a little uneasy. Maybe it’s the fact that, when they’re not trying to make us laugh, clowns seem like depressing people to be around, and I’m fairly certain the ones who entertain at children’s parties don’t even like kids. In the 2012 Irish horror / comedy Stitches, we meet a clown who, before the movie is over, transforms into a blood-crazed killer, and for some reason this didn’t feel like much of a stretch for me.
The trouble begins at a birthday party for young Tom (played as a 10-year-old by Ryan Burke). After turning up late, the ill-mannered Stitches (Ross Noble) puts on a rather pathetic show for Tom and his pals. None too impressed, the kids shout insults at the hapless clown, but take things a bit too far when a practical joke ends in disaster, resulting in the accidental death of poor Stitches. Feeling guilty over what happened, Tom attends Stitches’ funeral, where he inadvertently witnesses an ancient clown ritual involving an egg painted to resemble the late Stitches. Frightened and confused, Tom runs home.
From there, we jump ahead 6 years, at which point Tom (Tommy Knight) is preparing for yet another birthday. When his mother (Valerie Spelman) announces she’s going out of town, Tom’s best friend Vinny (Shane Murray-Corcoran) convinces him to host a wild party at his house. Hoping for a chance to impress Kate (Gemma-Leah Deveraux), who he’s been in love with since grade school, Tom agrees, and almost everyone at school shows up for the shindig (including those who, six years earlier, witnessed the tragedy that befell Stitches). What they don’t know, however, is that Stitches has chosen this particular night to return from the dead, crashing Tom’s party to exact his bloody revenge.
An homage to (as well as a spoof of) ‘80s slasher films, Stitches features lots of gore, with a number of very clever kill scenes. The accident that claimed Stitches’ life is gruesome (he tumbled backwards when Tom threw a soccer ball at him, landing on a kitchen knife sitting in the dishwasher. The blade entered his eye and burst through the top of his head). Yet this is nothing compared to what Stitches has in store for Tom and his friends. Without giving too much away, the best kill involves a slash to the midsection, followed by an air pump thrust into the back of the head (the resulting scene is cartoonish, but at the same time so over-the-top gory it’s certain to make you laugh).
Despite my aversion to clowns, I was never really scared while watching Stitches, even when the title character was in full revenge mode. As played by Noble (a well-known stand-up comedian in the UK), Stitches goes from a sad sack loser to a killer with plenty of personality, with one-liners at the ready for every occasion (which, despite being something of a cliché, are pretty creative). A blood-soaked slasher film with some funny moments, Stitches is a movie that even those afraid of clowns are sure to enjoy.