Yeah, still some vestiges of this whole clown thing, but this one’s just got a clown in it as opposed to being an evil clown movie in its entirety, and that would be John Simpson’s 2009 Amusement. In a semi-anthology-like format, we follow the misadventures of three women, Shelby, Lisa, and Tabitha, who were friends in elementary school.
The opening credits are interspersed with snapshots and school photos of them at various stages in their live up to high school. Along with this are some report card comments and “Most Likely To” yearbook captions.
The final series of photos is of an unnamed boy whose captions come instead from medical records and include “maladaptive fantasies” and “Recommend: ongoing psychiatric detention.” Clever as far as establishing backstory goes.
There’s also a later flashback in which the girls and the unnamed boy are showing each other their school projects—shoebox dioramas that you have to view through a peephole. The boy’s is seriously disturbing, and when he shows grade school aged Tabitha, he says “It’s funny, right?” Apparently this sparked his need for vengeance.
Right. So, Shelby starts things off. She and her boyfriend Rob are on the road after an unexplained “shitty weekend.” The boy likes to get in what he calls a “convoy,” a group of strangers traveling in the same direction who randomly stick together in a line. Dunno if this is a thing people really do, but okay. Anyhow, they all stop together for gas and strike up a loose camaraderie, they being a trucker, Shelby and the boy, and a dad in an SUV.
Things are not, of course, what they seem. The truck driver suggests they take a back road around the highway as he heard on the CB that traffic is at a standstill. Oh, Shelby sees a girl in his truck who seems to be a hostage. Well, she jumps, so Shelby, Rob, and the dad-type dude all stop to help her. Rob speeds off to get the trucker’s license plate and ends up getting chased back to the scene by said trucker. Rob goes off the road in the process.
When he gets back to the scene, SUV guy is hurt, and the trucker has apparently made off with Shelby and the other girl. Rob and the SUV guy track down the trucker to some rundown little cabin. I won’t give everything away but, predictably, things ain’t what they appear to be.
Next we meet Tabitha who is staying at her aunt’s house overnight to babysit her nephews. In an effective bit of misdirection, the director does a nice job making you suspect that the younguns are in fact the evil little fuckers of this segment. Even worse, the guest room Tabitha is using is full of fucking clown dolls. Why she stays in there anyway is anybody’s guess. I would have at the very least moved to the living room couch, if not the garage.
I won’t go into any more detail than that since this is a fairly creepy segment that’s worth havin’ a look at. Lisa is next. She wakes up after a night with her boyfriend only to find that her roomie, Cat, never came home and never called which, of course, is sooo not like her. Lisa heads over to a sketchy inn thinking she can get some intel from the guy Cat was talking to the night before. This does not go as planned.
The final showdown involves all 3 women and the killer who, no surprise, is “ongoing psychiatric detention” boy. All of this takes place in a sprawling, maze-like dwelling with some crafty little twists, turns, reveals, and executions culminating in a fairly satisfying final girl ending.
There are some logistical problems. There’s a scene involving Tabitha and a therapist in a police interrogation room. The therapist leaves at one point, and Tabitha escapes the room only to discover that, again, predictably, she’s not in a police station. Okay, then why is the therapist there?
Also, the trap in the final act is a little contrived and convenient, and the exterior shot following it reveals a location that can’t possibly hold all the places we’ve seen inside. In the grand scheme of things, though, those things are relatively minor. What’s more egregious is the utterly moronic placement of a forgotten weapon from a previous segment. No vengeful killer who’s gotten as far as this one does would make such a rookie mistake.
Overall though, Amusement does what it says on the tin. It’s amusing. Demented and sick, but amusing. “Now that was funny!” Don’t worry. It’ll makes sense once you see the movie.
BODIES- 8 onscreen, 3 off
Rent- Apple TV, Google Play, Prime, Vudu