Can one scene make a movie? Not usually, and it certainly didn’t make low-budget straight-to-DVD horror Amusement. But there is one moment in this run-of-the-mill scare flick that could be classified as a genuine spine-chiller.
Especially if you have an aversion to those things that dress-up in shiny colorful outfits, wear ridiculous make-up, sport crazy-ass hair and are supposed to send us into fits of laughter.
It is the scene in which what appears to be a harmless, ordinary, life-sized, hideously-deformed clown doll sitting in an arm-chair suddenly shows signs of having a life of its own and is one of the creepiest I’ve witnessed in a while.
That statement probably says more about the lack of a good horror film these days, but it is a truly edge-of-the-seat, eyes-stuck-to-the-television eight or nine minutes.
And it’s got nothing to do with the attractive 20-something blond babysitter getting undressed either …
But, at the same time, there’s certainly nothing new about the cliche-riddled Amusement, which clearly borrows heavily from classic slasher pics Halloween (1978) and My Bloody Valentine (1979) and from the more recent Saw series (2004 to infinity).
It was writer Jake Wade Wall‘s first original screenplay after penning the remakes of The Hitcher (2007) and When A Stranger Calls (2006), but is not very original at all.
And while some viewers may use their hands to cover their eyes during the dreaded ‘clown scene’ the script – which can go from being trying to be way too clever to completely hole-ridden to absolutely non-existent – will force those same hands onto the head to do some serious scratching.
The story, or what there is of one, centres around three former childhood friends now being terrorised in adulthood by an unknown assailant. He uses various methods to torment his prey – for his own ‘amusement’.
Broken up into three initial segments featuring the women being ‘played with’, the first features Shelby (Laura Breckenridge), driving on the highway at night with her boyfriend, Rob (Tad Hilgenbrink).
After they became the centre of a ridiculous three-way ‘convoy’, Shelby realises the truck in front is carrying a woman who, through the use of a sign that states ‘Help Me’, clearly doesn’t want to be there. Or maybe it was a message to her agent for putting her in this film.
(Spoilers) Anyway, the fact she then throws herself out of the window and onto the windshield of Rob’s car is not really that important, but merely just a ruse.
The real threat is not the rough-around-the-edges truckie as made out but the driver of the station-wagon bringing up the rear.
This doufus dad in disguise is actually a character titled The Laugh, the man who next appears in the clown suit to scare and ultimately kidnap Tabitha (Katheryn Winnick) and then as some sort of surgeon to do likewise with Lisa (Jessica Lucas).
It turns out The Laugh (played by Australian Keir O’Donnell, currently seen in Paul Blart: Mall Cop) was a demented little boy the three women had sent to a detention centre when they were children.
They basically ratted him out. And he’s back to extract his revenge … ! Sound familiar?
The movie is quite well shot by director John Simpson, but just like having one decent scene, it’s just not enough.