The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape
Send this page to Twitter!  

THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan



Whenever a really big genre picture comes along, you can bet your bottom dollar there will be a low-budget knockoff of it released around the same time. Or, if not an intentional knockoff, at least a movie with some notable similarities to capitalize on. The theory is that audiences will be so enthralled by the “big” film that they'll immediately want to see anything even remotely comparable. For instance, hot on the heels of the current blockbuster It comes another psycho clown movie, Clowntergeist.

That title probably makes the picture sound like something you'd catch on the SyFy channel some Saturday night. While certainly nowhere near the quality level of Andy Muschietti's current Stephen King adaptation, this is no Sharknado-esque lark. Writer/director Aaron Mirtes honestly tries to work up a few scares.

Brittany Beland plays Emma, a college student with a phobia of clowns. This proves troublesome when a malevolent spirit inhabiting the body of Ribcage the Clown (Eric Corbin) begins terrorizing the small town where she lives. The creature's modus operandi is to write someone's name and the time of their death on a red balloon. When Emma finds one with her name on, she has to figure out a way to fend off the pending attack. Helping her is sarcastic best friend Heather (Monica Baker).

Despite the hard-to-take-seriously title, there are some fairly good qualities to Clowntergeist. Mirtes makes the most of a low budget, bringing some eerie visual style to scenes in which Ribcage threatens or attacks. One scene in particular is legitimately horrifying, as a character is forced to do something that will be inconceivable to any pet owner. Beland and Baker, meanwhile, turn out to be likable leads. They bring some humanity to the film that helps ground those gorier elements.

The problem is that Clowntergeist runs only 80 minutes, including end credits. That means a lot of things are underdeveloped, most notably the backstory of Ribcage. Knowing more about who he is, how he became possessed, and why he's so intent on killing people would have made him substantially more menacing than he ultimately is. Similarly, Emma and Heather are thrown into their perilous situation early on, meaning that, despite decent work from the actresses playing them, we don't get to know these young women to any meaningful degree. Consequently, that vital quality where we hold our breath, hoping the heroes can survive each perilous situation is never fully achieved.

Anyone looking for a genuinely scary clown-based horror film is strongly advised to check out It. That said, if you haven't gotten your fill of the creepy circus performers after that movie, you could do a lot worse than Clowntergeist. It's not entirely successful, yet to dismiss it as mere schlock would be unfair.

( out of four)

Clowntergeist is unrated, but contains language and strong bloody violence. The running time is 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Buy a copy of my book, "Straight-Up Blatant: Musings From The Aisle Seat," on sale now at! Paperback and Kindle editions also available at!

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.