Wide World of Horror: ‘Stitches’ – clowns are always creepy, always

Written by Conor McMahon & David O’Brien
Directed by Conor McMahon
Ireland, 2012

Clowns are creepy, for many a person. By using a clown as the villain of the film Stitches treads on common ground in the garden of fear. Treading on common ground is something that Stitches is quite fond of. There’s almost no cliché that Stitches doesn’t hit, including an unfortunate, and unfunny, bit where an innocent animal falls to the wrath of the villain. In most horror movies sticking so close to tried and true clichés would be tiring. Stitches isn’t exactly a breath of fresh air, but manages to overcome the well-known nature of its story.

The reason for this is simple, fun and authenticity. The fun comment will make sense to anyone who has seen Stitches. There’s not a truly serious bone in the entirety of Stitches. Early on the film adopts a comically over the top veneer. It’s not that a character must die, or that the audience must be scared. Rather, it’s that the character’s innards must be turned into an inflatable dog, and that the audience must get a chuckle out of a killer clown shuffling across the floor. Comedy isn’t always easy to pull off in a horror film, and though it doesn’t always succeed, Stitches does manage to be a funny comedy horror.

The authenticity of Stitches is a compliment of the film that does bear some explanation. How can a film that features a killer undead clown, people drinking wine that has been pissed in, and intestines being turned into a blow-up toy be authentic? The answer is simple; the actors seem like real kids. They are stupid kids; they have almost no redeemable qualities among the lot of them. Yet, they are eminently believable and add to the fun because of how real they seem.

Stitches 2012 movie pic1

Of course, some of this is tempered by a gay character who is so over the top gay that he teeters towards offensive. Then again, the entirety of Stitches is over the top, so maybe the over the top nature of the gay character is forgivable. It’s hard to think that homophobia was the intent with a character that is never targeted because of his gayness, but rather because of his obesity. Stitches is far from subtle and sensitive when it comes to drawing up its characters, but any one of these characters could be found at any High School the world over.

There’s nothing new to be found in Stitches, but there is a modicum of fun to be had. Gore hounds will be pleased, and those looking for raunchy humor will be even more satisfied. Essentially, horror fans in general should be pleased with a film like Stitches. Though it may not be among the best, Conor McMahon’s film offers up some laughs and has fun within the genre that most horror buffs believe is a whole lot of fun to begin with.

-Bill Thompson

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