Directed by Conor McMahon
Distributed by Dark Sky Films
I totally have to admit that I dismissed Stitches outright just based on how the premise sounded on paper and its silly cover art but was proved completely wrong once I gave the film a chance. It is not only hilarious and gleefully gory, but co-writer/director Conor McMahon very well may have crafted himself a legit modern cult classic here with Ross Noble’s performance as the offbeat vengeance-seeking clown, which is the best I’ve seen since Tim Curry donned the big floppy shoes and headed down to float around in the sewers for “Stephen King’s It.”
Stitches starts off following a grump of a clown named Richard “Stitches” Grindle (Noble), who arrives at 10-year-old Tommy’s house to entertain him and his friends for the tyke’s birthday, only to find out that the youngsters are none too thrilled with his shabby and outdated tricks. After the group of kids turn the tables and pull the ultimate prank on Stitches during his performance, the clown accidentally stumbles upon a kitchen knife that ends up sending the performer six feet under before he has a chance to even finish his act.
Fast forward six years later and it’s once again time to celebrate Tommy’s birthday; since his mom will be traveling on his big day, Tommy reluctantly decides to throw a party to celebrate, spending the last several years dealing with the trauma of seeing Stitches killed right before his very eyes. Unfortunately for Tommy and his friends, the undead clown has returned from the grave for some unfinished business, and soon the teenagers find themselves on the run once Stitches (and his sidekick red nose) shows up to throw his own killer affair during Tommy’s birthday bash.
And while Stitches may sound like your run-of-the-mill slasher movie, it’s anything but, which is largely due to Noble’s blisteringly brilliant performance as the unfortunate clown. He kicks the film’s energy up a few notches any time he appears on screen. Sure, his motives may not necessarily be all that original and his intended victims are really not much more than the usual stereotypes you see in teen-centric genre films, but thankfully Stitches is infused with McMahon’s tongue-in-cheek approach, which, complemented by Noble’s deadpan performance, keeps both the story and the humor feeling fresh despite the concept being rather familiar.
What also makes Stitches a hell of a lot of fun for horror fans out there is the wonderfully insane amount of gore and practical effects that hearkens back to the glory days of practical effects in the 1980’s; not only are all the gags impressively constructed, but all the kills that McMahon and Co. cooked up in Stitches are unbelievably inventive. Really fun stuff.
For those of you who do check out Stitches, I highly recommend revisiting the flick with the commentary track included in this home video release featuring McMahon and Noble; it’s as funny as it is informative and a really nice companion track to the film (and enlightening if you’re unfamiliar with the filmmaking process in Ireland and into that sort of thing). Stitches also features an entertaining 20-minute making of featurette that’s worth a watch and a blooper reel that’s as funny as anything you’d see in the film. There’s a trailer included as well.
If you’re looking for something a little different, I can’t recommend Stitches enough; while it may not necessarily be reinventing the wheel or anything, everyone involved has gone above and beyond in delivering a truly inventive old-school horror/comedy that features some of the bloodiest and most crazy awesome kills I’ve seen in some time. If you’re a fan of quirky and offbeat horror humor, put Stitches at the top of your rental list immediately; just a wonderful and surprising film all-around.
3 1/2 out of 5
3 out of 5