Director: George Kane
Starring: Natalie Palamides, David Earl, Ivan Kaye, Tadhg Murphy, Erin McGathy, Amy De Bhrún, Fionn Foley
Galway Film Fleadh winner Apocalypse Clown should also win an award at Fantasia for the most eye-catching title - a riff on one of the most popular films of all time whilst also not really making any sense at all. Either way, here we are, so send in the clowns.
George Kane’s oddball comedy takes place in a seemingly-deserted Ireland following an apparently cataclysmic event where the only survivors are a troupe of strange clowns, a journalist who had a regretful fling with one of them, and a collection of feral kids. If that all sounds a bit wacky, then you’ll be pleased/sad to hear that the film itself is no less wacky than its premise.
"With its bonkers premise and colourful collection of clowns, Apocalypse Clown was never going to be a straightforward affair, and that turned out to be true in more ways than one."
Whether the film itself is a critique or celebration of the clown industry is open to interpretation (I land in the camp that it aims to celebrate) but what is for certain is Apocalypse Clown plays host to a real hodgepodge of characters. Our troupe of crazy and mismatched clowns includes Bobo (Earl, who also acts as lead), Funzo (a film-stealing Palamides), Tim from Bromanz (Murphy), Pepe (Foley) and The Great Alphonso (Kaye), and together they each bring their own brand of zaniness to proceedings - there’s a killer clown, a washed-up clown, a pretentious clown, there’s a clown for all attitudes and needs. Nestled in with them is Amy de Bhrún's Jenny, who finds herself roped in after Bobo searches her out in a vain attempt to rekindle their booze-fuelled night of passion, one which she is more than happy to forget. There’s a nice chemistry between Bobo, Funzo, and Tim that allows the viewer to root for their madcap situation more for them than the reward at the end of it, and the cast as a whole is game for the challenge laid out for them.
In terms of its comedic effect, the film is a mixed bag. Though most jokes landed successfully enough, some fell flat or felt forced whilst certain lines seemed to be improvised with varying levels of joy. The humour is also very ‘British’, which will work for some but not for others, given the references to events or persons from the UK alongside a heavy dash of social commentary. Thankfully, the majority of Apocalypse Clown falls into positive territory in terms of humour and writing. However, some of the choreography in the film’s ‘action’ scenes didn’t fully land, which may have been deliberate but still no less jarring, and more maybe could have been shown of Ireland’s beautiful expansive landscapes to add to the film’s scope.
With its bonkers premise and colourful collection of clowns, Apocalypse Clown was never going to be a straightforward affair, and that turned out to be true in more ways than one. When it hits its stride, it’s an engaging and affable romp, however, it's also tonally odd and suffers from sluggish pacing at points. If you’re simply after a rowdy and exuberant comedy with clowns and gunge, you’ll be fine here. For me, Apocalypse Clown is a fun adventure that slightly overstays its welcome.
(Apocalypse Clown will be in UK Cinemas from 1st September)
July 22nd 2023