I guess what you do when you don't have a great idea for a horror movie is this: You create the villain first, and just work backwards from there. That seems to be the method employed by writer/director Kevin Kangas in his second flick. (His first was Hunting Humans, which you needn't rent anytime soon.) The stalker here is a creatively painted (and decidedly homicidal) clown, one who's been jammed, it seems, into a rather juicy episode of Dynasty or Dallas.
Far as I could tell before my brain succumbed to the sheer weight of the convoluted narrative, Fear of Clowns is about a talented lady painter who harbors a long-standing, you guessed it, fear of clowns. While suffering through a bitter divorce from her greasy husband, Lynn spends her time displaying her clown-heavy artwork while spotting evil clowns hiding behind every corner.
As it turns out, not only is Lynn's husband trying to have her killed, but there's an actual clown-faced stalker wandering around the neighborhood. Toss in a curious cop, a hunky love interest, a few goofy dream sequences, and enough stilted dialogue to fill a circus tent ... and there's Fear of Clowns, the movie that was created with a DVD cover first, and a screenplay (maybe) fourth.
The meandering pace of the thing is not given much help from the indie cast members or the too-rare scare sequences. Aside from leading lady Jacky Reres and longtime Kangas pal Rick Ganz, none of the actors make much of an impression. As the axe-wielding and perpetually shirtless clown-freak, Mark Lassise is asked to do not much besides swing his weapon and tilt his head like a puppy.
It's pretty clear that indie filmmaker Kevin Kangas has some skill with a camera, and also that he harbors a strong affection for the slasher classics, but based only on what I've heard in Hunting Humans and Fear of Clowns, story structure and dialogue are not exactly his strong suit. Although it has a few tense moments and creatively creepy scenes, Fear of Clowns runs on way too long that it needs to. The flick feels like it's about to wind down three different times, only to wheeze back to life for another nine minutes.
Video: The flick's presented in a widescreen (1.78:1) transfer, one that's actually not too shabby for a do-it-yourself movie.
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, with optional subtitles in English and Spanish. Audio quality is fairly inconsistent, with some scenes presented at an even pitch and others way too soft and fuzzy.
No Clowning Around: The Making of Fear of Clowns is a 36-minute behind-the-scenes / interview-fest that should thrill anyone who worked on the movie, but basically it's a bunch of boring filmmakers telling bland stories about their generic production. Hate to sound like a jerk, but I kept waiting for one compelling insight or unique anecdote that never arrived.
After sitting through the tedium of the featurette, I just didn't have the strength to flip on the audio commentary with writer/director Kevin Kangas and visual effects artist Paul C. Kangas. I'm sure the brothers are really nice guys and all, but...
Rounding out the disc are an 8-minute block of outtakes and a bunch of trailers for Fear of Clowns, Saw 2, Cerberus, Buried Alive, Three...Extremes, Waiting....
There's some good stuff tucked away in the generally forgettable Fear of Clowns -- and I'll gladly admit that it's a marked improvement over Hunting Humans -- but it's just too dry and familiar a tale to warrant such effort. Hardcore horror fans can feel free to give it a rental, if only to see if I'm being a bit harsh, but I suspect this Kangas guy's best movies are still ahead of him.