STITCHES

7 out of 10

Ireland 

Release Date: 26th October 2012

Director: Conor McMahon

Cast: Ross Noble, Tommy Knight, Gemma-Leah Devereux, Shane Murray Corcoran

Writer: Conor McMahon

Trailer: STITCHES

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)
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One thought on “STITCHES

  1. STITCHES – review by Matt “Ha ha ha, he he he, I see the funny side of that” Usher

    The Irish are here! Minutes after nice Irish film ONDINE swam back to its picturesque bay along came mad Irish movie STITCHES about a dead homicidal children’s entertainer. What with GRABBERS and BOTCHED, the Irish seem to have cornered the market in making weird films with one-word titles and I for one hope that this trend continues. The one word title here (STITCHES) is a little too subtle though. REVENGE OF THE DEAD KILLER CLOWN would have been more in keeping with the spirit of the film. Let me explain…

    A miserable clown is hired to perform at a birthday party for some obnoxious children. Somehow he manages to get killed. Some years later the same obnoxious children (now played by youngish grown-up actors) have another party, and again the clown shows up, still miserable but also dead, and with murder and mayhem in mind. Teenagers and pets die, our heroes fight back, you know the formula.

    At its best STITCHES is quirky, clever, sick and gruesome. At its worst it can be a bit dull and lacking in interesting characters. Fortunately the former qualities outweigh the latter. I can forgive a film almost anything when it gives a clown’s nose a life of its own. STITCHES seems to be a film where the film-makers have come up with a lot of really good ideas, and a number of excellent set-pieces, and cobbled them together using some old rope. Fortunately the ideas and set-pieces are worth it, if you like umbrella-based death and exploding heads and the idea of satanic clowns resurrecting their dead colleagues by the light of the full moon. And blood and guts – lots of them. Rarely has a film splattered the entrails and gore of schoolchildren (albeit quite mature looking ones) so gleefully – there must be certain Hollywood film-makers watching STITCHES and thinking ‘why didn’t we do that?’ (I expect a Hollywood rebooted re-imagining may be round the corner.)

    At its heart though (if such a cheerfully depraved film can be said to possess one) is the performance of stand-up comedian Ross Noble as the doomed and doom-mongering eponymous clown of doom Stitches. Here he channels the spirit of a deflated and sadistic Les Dawson, lumbering forlornly (though generally successfully) after those pesky kids. Rarely has a cat been mangled with such relish (and the fact that it’s so obviously a fake somehow makes it even better). Noble is not known as an actor, but I can’t think of anyone better for the role. He never overdoes it (which must have been tempting) and yet manages to convey both glee and irritation in equal measure. (I like that he gets irritated by being foiled, rather than angry.) This has got to be one of the great movie clown performances, easily up there with any movie clown you can think of. The film sags when he’s away from the screen (this is a huge compliment to Noble and a gross insult to everyone else involved in the film but it’s true). Stitches is a brilliant creation (one might even see opportunities for sequels) as are the gratuitously violent and over the top set pieces. But, in spite of a few decent lines and some likeable performances, the un-Stitched scenes are just treading water.

    Tommy Knight (from The Sarah Jane Adventures which I will not admit to watching) is just as wooden as when he was in The Sarah Jane Adventures (which I did not watch). He’s our supposed hero, traumatised by the accidental killing of the clown (not that you can tell) and the one teenager we’re meant to identify with because he’s sensitive and not Irish. The other teenagers are better played and make the most of (deliberately) stereotypical slasher-victim roles. But where is this film set? Half the school seems to be Irish and half English. Is this a subtle comment on the peace process?

    But enough of the disposable teens! I shall leave the delighted / revolted viewer to discover the joyous / hideous details of the inventively designed murders for themselves. Suffice to say that the film-maker responsible is clearly a very disturbed individual and it is fortunate that he has decided to use his imagination in the realm of cinema rather than the realm of serial-killing. Had he chosen the latter career path he would have been quite a menace, particularly if the jury found any of his killings humorous. I think STITCHES clearly shows the redemptive power of art in saving director / co-writer Conor McMahon from the road to homicidal ruin. STITCHES is a very grisly comedy horror, not remotely scary (it’s not meant to be) and with the barest of interest in the pesky kids (though it does paradoxically dwell on them too much). It is saved, and elevated to a higher level by Ross Noble, the film’s absurdist outlook, its cheery disregard for taste, and the staggeringly glorious deaths. This may not perhaps be fun for all the family, and things like subtlety and spookiness are alien to its nature, but it enders itself lovingly to one’s inner ghoul, and has a funny bike chase in it. And of course it does no favours to the ancient and honourable tradition of clowning (it’s either a grotesque calumny or a fearless expose of that strange art) but that’s probably a good thing. The world needs more mad Irish films.

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