31 Days of Horror: Amusement

31daysofhorror-reckoningHello hello, the Coroner here with another installment of the Report, this time focusing on the direct to DVD and Blu-ray Amusement. The film is writer Jake Wade Wall’s first foray into something original, he previously penned the remakes of The Hitcher and the atrocious When a Stranger Calls. Working with his own material, Wall does a decently good job, though with obvious flaws.  Director John Simpson is similarly inexperienced, but manages to craft a pretty good movie with one section that is absolutely awesome.

AmusementDVDThis little film came out a good while ago and I’ve been meaning to catch up with it for months now.  The cover is a spooky clown and it stars a couple of women, I mean how bad can it be?  The story is broken up into basically three sections.  The first serves as an introduction to our killer as he does what he does best – look kind of nerdy.  Fourth or fifth on the list of things he does best is kill people, so he does that too.  Then we follow Tabitha (Kathryn Winnick from Satan’s Little Helper) as her babysitting job goes horribly awry.  Thrown into the mix are two of Tabitha’s childhood friends, who are also having a pretty rough time of it.


I counted seven kills in the flick and there are 3 more than probably happened, though they’re off-screen and we never see or hear anything from them again. So yeah, probably dead.


One of the first people to go down loses an out-of-nowhere, awesome Person versus Truck fight.  We get a sledgehammer to the head, a tortured animatronic squirrel, and a spike is shot into some guy’s eye.  There are what appear to be some tortured and cut up humans, a gut stab, a long fall to a hard surface, and someone getting stabbed IN THE FACE!  (Read that as if I’m yelling it at you).


There are some cute girls in this.  Kathryn Winnick is a total hottie.  In one scene she starts taking off her clothes.  Oh yeah.  She pulls off that shirt.  Mm… Revealing… Wait for it… Oh yeah another shirt.  A tank top, but still.  A shirt.  Whatever she keeps going, starts sliding down them pants.  Awww hells yeah, what’s she working with?  A pair of shorts.  Not underwear.  Not boxer or boy shorts.  A pair or short girl shorts.  Kind of short.  But still.  She could walk out side in this outfit and no one would look twice.  Okay, well I would.  But basically she took off all her clothes revealing an entire other set of clothes.


You know that weird, fucked up kid in school who everyone thinks will grow up to be a serial killer?  He will.


This is kind of a tough one.  Amusement is definitely a mixed bag, with some good, some bad, and even a pinch of great.  If you’re coming into this looking for the clown face to be the next slasher killer, you’re going to leave disappointed.  The mask only plays a small role in the film, but it’s without a doubt the best part.  Technically speaking, the film on Blu-ray looks absolutely fantastic.  The picture is sharp and crisp and well lit, allowing us to see everything we need to even when it’s very dark.  Much bigger budget films could learn from that trick.

Winnick wearing a lot of clothes.

Winnick wearing a lot of clothes.

The plot is somewhat disjointed as we first follow Tabitha, then Shelby for a few minutes and then Lisa looking for Shelby.  Then the final section is them together, but with a run time of under 85 minutes, the film doesn’t devote enough time to anyone.  I’d say my biggest problem was the way in which the plot was presented and the time.  Normally I’m all for short, but this is underkill.  The resolution happens very fast.  The last two kills are quick and anti-climactic after the buildup.  Then you’re sitting there thinking “It can’t be over,” and you don’t want it to be.  You wanted more from it.  Frankly, the way it goes is okay, but I think sticking with the clown face and making a more traditional slasher would have worked better for me.  Acting wise, all of the main cast are pretty good, though “The Laugh” (the killer) is played well over the top.

However, the movie has a saving grace, other than Kathryn Winnick being a total babe.  It’s a scene where she is babysitting two children at a relative’s house.  The guest bedroom is full of clown decorations, including one gigantic, life-sized clown with an accordion.  Needless to say Tabitha is a bit freaked out.  It doesn’t help that there is a storm going on outside, the children are behaving strangely, and the original babysitter ditched out early.  As you suspect, the life-sized clown is none other than our killer, and the scene is played very tense.  It’s spooky and scary and amazingly well-crafted.  It’s on par with the opening scene of When a Stranger Calls, which is one of the most tense scenes I’ve ever seen.  This section of the film is great, which is why I had such high hopes for the rest of it.  Not only does the film not live up to those hopes in the end, but it moves completely away from that kind of tension.  There is no slow stalk, no true mind game.  Sure, there is a bit of a practical joke involved (the title is Amusement, after all) but it’s a completely different kind of mind game.

At the end of the day, Amusement is good but not great, which is a shame because it most definitely could have been great.  I say check it out if for nothing more than the amazing picture clarity on Blu-ray (it really looks fantastic) and the clown scene, which I could watch again right now.

Grade: B-

Robert Fure is many things: horror expert, ruggedly handsome man of the world, witty prose composer, and writer of his own biography page. Beneath the bravado is a scared little boy, ready to grow into an awesome man and make lies about a scared little boy inside of him. Wait a minute...

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