In the genre of horror, it often follows trends, slashers to zombies to paranormal, but now it’s clowns, face it, thanks to It and the success of it the movie, it generated a lot of interest, for example Arrow Video is finally releasing a much talked about special edition of Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988). Therefore, more killer clowns peeking out the shadows flashing their DVDs, and appearing at horror conventions. One those clown movies, comes from Uncork’d Entertainment and while not directly a killing clown, it plays more to a theme of circus performers turn deadly, similar to the repulsive but wickedly fun flick Circus of the Dead (2014), now enter Circus Kane. Director and co-producer Christopher Douglas-Olen Ray known for his flick (Shark Week (2012)) using a script written by James Cullen Bressack and Zack Ward (based from a story from Sean Sellars), all confined to an 88-minute movie with Saw-like killings and a pure fun flick, that allows the audience to switch off the brain.
It brings just about every aspect a B-Horror Movie needs, especially thanks to the team behind the writing, never working to make everything perfect or serious, rather another fun ride. The actual star of the feature is the character Balthazar Kane (Tim Abell, who does a fine performance of this lunatic creation) who is perceived as a pop culture fixture famed murder (perhaps on the level of Manson). He suddenly resurfaces, and gets an odd and yet equal group of individuals to play a game and receive $250,000 for making it through his walk-through course, yes sounds tad like Saw meets House on Haunted Hill. The group contains social media stars (a movie memorabilia collector, a film critic, a Scream Queen, a rocker, a gamer, a teen, and two bloggers) who learn of inclusion via text message, first tipoff likely why go with a known murderer offset against the possibility the huge amount all as a publicity stunt. Soon enough the games start, the blood flowing, splattering and traps with deadly consequences whittling the group down quickly through the maze of weaponize traps and delight of circus performers and us the viewers too. A few comedic lines uttered from Kane and the contestants noting horror movie quotes and lines to flicks, add a little depth to relatively cardboard cut characters, flimsy in all manner. If these individuals garnish such large social media, where’s the filming of their deaths to the world and injustice rage. Jonathan Lipnicki does a fine job with the material for his portrayal of Scott and equally nice to since a cameo appearance of Richard Moll (which some might recall from the TV series Night Court and others from his extensive 67-horror film credits notable House (1986)).
This film presents the right amount of visual style, and never carries itself too far past the limitations of a b-movie confines, and therefore a viewer needs to accept the film for what it presents. Some of the sfx gags work very well or others fall flat, namely the barbed wire while trying to strive for a Suspiria (1977) homage it fails, it likely contains numerous reasons for it, however the angle doesn’t convince anyone of the believability of the scene. Although, throughout the production the cinematography runs the success rate at 80%, aided by Adam Oliver’s music. Much of the dialogue is occupied by annoying movie quotes, Scream (1996) and Urban Legends (1998) did this a lot, Final Girls (2015) gave it some fresh air, but this only now works with it more ad-lib or a one-off methodology; otherwise the gimmick that mildly amuses before being beaten six feet under the ground. The conclusion of the film shows a bit of a quicken pace likely due to fading natural light, and external conditions not shown on the screen, and perhaps an unplanned rewrite affected the finale. Circus Kane uses macabre setup of traps followed by the standard slasher methods, with a few wisecracking remarks by Kane (not like that of Freddy character, not that chatty), rather teasing his victims with sometimes a grandiose speech. Needless to say, for the limited time invested by the audience, one should enjoy the watery bloodletting.
Christopher Douglas-Olen Ray currently on the right path to keep the family name in the low-budget but b-movie masterpieces with his Circus Kane production, it won’t be included on top-50 lists of must watch movies, unless limited to clowns, but fits the mark for the average horror flick in the VOD rentals.
IMDb Rating: 4.7/10
Baron’s Rating: 4.5/10