Often in the horror genre, there are trends, when 28 Days Later (2002) and then Dawn of the Dead (2004) first came out, countless zombie flicks appear, and then the same thing happen with found footage and paranormal films, and now the trend has clown flicks. While it’s never a truly a bad thing, it actually is very common, perhaps some of it goes unnoticed, as there’s plenty of interesting angles and avenues to venture down. This brings us to Sean Haitz (Mangrove Slasher 2 ) making his feature film directorial debut with clown cannibal horror film, Big Top Evil, that successfully earned distribution with Gravitas Ventures on August 27th, 2019 on all platforms, rarity for such an independent production. Now oppose the polish look of It (2017) and the sequel It: Chapter Two (2019),the indie market goes out in zany manners, especially leading the charge is Terrifier (2016) and to a lesser degree 31 (2016) on Blu-Ray, DVD, and VOD platforms. However, this movie isn’t just about clowns, it also involves a very twisted circus, while not filled with those similar to Freaks (1932) it does follow the vein of Circus of the Dead (2014) and Clownhouse (1989). It’s quickly determined as a b-horror movie, with friends meeting sinister clowns, on a road trip and swirling frenzy of insanity, all due to script from Sean and John Morrisey.
Serving time for a murder he didn’t commit, Jay (Haitz) is meeting with a new lawyer and she asks him to tell her everything that happened to him. Jay was one of two groups heading to Mangrove County fascinated with the “Mangrove Slasher”, who was never caught, hence he begins retelling the story and this is where the movie actually starts. While heading to their destination, all in an effort for him to get over his breakup, their friend Donny loses the map, hence they head to a gas station where they meet both Roadside Jack (J. LaRose (Extremity )), who makes the most of his cameo as a backwoods farmer who warns the group to stay on the highway, and then Candy (Austin Graham), who works as a trapeze artist at the local circus, convinces them to attend. The owner and proprietor, Mr. Kharver, portrayed by horror icon Bill Moseley (Old 37 ) runs the business with an iron fist, making sure the talent obeys, or face the punishment. There are too many clowns involved, to select which to mention with any details, except they’re all quite sadistic cannibals who are thrive of finding new visitors. His assistant, Skid (Diamond Mike), pretty sadistic himself but tends to be a little short of attention when he just wants to kill. It truly takes no time for the group to find themselves cut apart (pun intended) and their pain and flesh feed these clowns.
The budget for Big Top Evil was approximately $50,000, I mention this because its far below the average production, but also what he and his team were able to accomplish, to many, a bloody and disgusting horror flick especially relying on practical effects. Horror fans don’t want the CGI, and acceptable to only few digital effects, for many that computer graphic stays in the action and sci-fi genres. The cinematography goes for more graphic and at times almost nauseating shots and angles featuring close-ups of sadistic playtime of the clowns’ scary moments.
Haitz delivers a nice throwback to the b-movies, with a slight hint to the exploitation arena, especially with some of the extreme shots, it appears and feels like a grimy 70s meeting 80s flick, as if Clowntown (2016) tried to play with insanity of Mickey and Mallory of Natural Born Killers (1994).
IMDB Rating: 4.3/10
Baron’s Rating: 4.0/10