7 out of 10
Release Date: 26th October 2012
Director: Conor McMahon
Cast: Ross Noble, Tommy Knight, Gemma-Leah Devereux, Shane Murray Corcoran
Writer: Conor McMahon
Is it possible for a film to be so good because of a single idea or character? If so Stitches proves it. What could have been a generic stalk and slash horror comedy is made fresh by a wonder performance by first time actor Ross Noble and inventive and very effective special effects. Between director Conor McMahon and Ross Noble, a memorably grisly and funny horror icon has been created. The titular Stitches is the local clown who has a fatal accident at the hands of a group of spoilt kids six years ago. Back from the grave, Stitches wreaks revenge on the now teen aged killers that put him six feet under. For plot, that’s it. The lead teen is Tommy Knight from Dr Who, who has had a phobia of clowns ever since Stitches demise. So when Ross Noble‘s murderous ghoul returns from the dead our hero isn’t sure whether he’s having hallucinations.
Our hero’s mother is out of town so a party is going off at his considerable house. This is an apt canvas to shed blood. Each victim is despatched in an extremely gory almost jazz-ike variation of the manner in which Stitches act was disrupted six years before. We see visceral and imaginative uses for intestines, umbrellas, can openers and bicycle pumps. Almost like Freddy Kreuger in the use of sight gags, Ross Noble’s Stitches makes the dead clown his own by basing him on that ilk of Northern stan up comedians like Jim Bowen, Les Dawson or Bernard Manning. Wheezing and pausing for breath whilst in pursuit, exclaiming “Bastards!” at any chance he can get. He even has an amazing catch phrase which will resonate long after you’ve finished watching. The inclusion of “I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight” by The Cutting Crew is superb. I wish it had been used for a better scene though. It’s a few inches from being iconic.
So we’ve established that it’s funny but is it scary? Not really but it is creepy. So that’s good. A procession of ghostly clowns at Stitches funeral is memorable and the re-birth is a riff on a famous horror staple. The first few fleeting glimpses of him around the party are effectively weird too. So kudos to the makers for keeping their eye on important genre trappings. On the downside the teens are a standard bunch of no-hopers that I struggle to remember beyond their creative deaths. So a little bit of thought with the characters and some better acting from them may have been in order. Like I said though, this is a horror and it belongs to the beast. What a good beast he is too. Ross Noble acts like this is his one chance, but he doesn’t over cook it. A truly talented natural at acting, not just another stand up that got lucky.
Stitches is included in Britpic even though it’s an Irish Film Production. My reason for putting it in here is because it was so good. But in spirit this site is dedciated to independent cinema everywhere. I think the readers of the site would want to now about it too. So I hope to see even more Irish low-fi flicks like this. Can’t wait for Grabbers! Crappy low budget horror-comedies like Elfie Hopkins take note, it is possible to make a great genre pic with no money.
7 out of 10 – A memorably creepy comedy horror romp. Chiefly victorious because of a commanding performance from Ross Noble in his acting debut and very creative gory effects. If there’s any justice Stitches the clown will stand shoulder to shoulder with Freddy Kreuger, Jason Vorhees, Michael Myers and their friends. Well done all concerned. What’s next?
Another Review below by Matt “what’s a clown?” Usher
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?
- Ross Noble: Nails, Ross Noble – Freewheeling (TV), Ross Noble – Mindblender (TV), Ross Noble – Nonsensory Overload (TV), Ross Noble – Fizzy Logic (TV), Ross Noble – Sonic Waffle (TV)
- Tommy Knight: The Hippopotamus, Waterloo Road (TV), The Sarah Jane Adventures (TV), Dr Who (TV)
- Gemma-Leah Devereux: Dartmoor Killing, Casualty (TV)