Fans of absurdist Geordie comic Ross Noble will likely have been salivating at the prospect of low-budget Irish horror-comedy, Stitches (2012). Bringing his surreal brand of humour in tow, he stars at the eponymous character in Conor McMahon’s gleefully gory film. One to avoid for coulrophobes, it sees Noble’s undead clown wreaking havoc on a group of teenagers in revenge for his own untimely and accidental demise. Whilst it features some suitably inventive and gruesome deaths, it isn’t quite as consistently funny as one might hope, despite our initial introduction to the Krusty-esque Richard ‘Stitches’ Grindle in a grotty caravan.
Realising he’s late for a gig, Grindle races across the dull landscape in his fittingly ridiculous car and proceeds to go down like a lead balloon at Tom’s birthday party in a room full of heckling kids. One prank they play leads to a horrific accident, resulting in the blood-spattered fatality of the funster. Resurrected by a sinister clownish cabal, Stitches bides his time. Several years later, a haunted Tom (Tommy Knight) reluctantly agrees to take advantage of having the house to himself by arranging a birthday party. Stitches sees the perfect opportunity to have his vengeance.
Just how Grindle sets about wreaking his rank and grisly revenge is really Stitches‘ greatest strength, with the exponentially more violent deaths taking on an increasingly harlequin flavour. Stand-out sequences involve the jester dishing up a victim’s brain with an ice-cream scoop, whilst another unfortunate witnesses his own viscera employed as a grisly balloon animal. All of this make for a series of devilishly jocular kills, but sadly the film isn’t able to sustain its comedy throughout. Noble does a reasonable job as the titular killer and his roll is littered with an array of daft one-liners which do raise the odd wry smile, but more often that not fall flat.
When all’s said and done, McMahon’s Stitches is a film built around its sequence of imaginative and clown-themed death scenes. Whilst these are, for the most part, a success, there is a whole other hour of film that fails to deliver the same level of humour – and certainly not horror. Noble aficionados should find him enjoyably demented and there’s probably enough claret to keep horror fans pleased, but most may well find themselves struggling to stay engaged.
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