Movie of the Week: Gags the Clown

In Green Bay, Wisconsin, someone is dressing as a clown to scare the locals.  This person doesn’t really do anything besides hold black balloons and stand in one spot.  Security cameras capture him and passing motorists snap photos.  Taking social media and regional news outlets by storm, the sinister looking clown is nicknamed Gags and becomes the local sensation.  News crews and adoring fans take to the streets to seek him out.

Not everyone is amused by Gags.  A large number of people are frightened by him, if for no other reason than him being a clown.  Naturally, calls are made to the police of copycats terrorizing Green Bay.  Gags is suddenly spotted everywhere.  He’s stalking people downtown, he’s luring children to the woods with the promise of candy, and all the other phony calls which waste police resources.  There is also a conservative, reactionary podcaster calling for the clown’s neck in a noose.

Then there’s the real Gags who seems to be out for blood.  He materializes, sometimes with creepy circus music, to give folks the heebie-jeebies.  And balloons.  He gives his victims balloons which, when popped, covers them in a fine powder.  This powder makes them sick and, eventually, zombie-like.  Those who are hospitalized soon disappear.

In the middle of all this Gags frenzy are two police officers running from call to call about the clown; three teens who are spooking people for sport and video clips; two rival news teams; and the militant podcaster with his own trusty cameraman.  Their stories all converge in the end.  It gets strange.

Gags the Clown is found footage.  I didn’t know before I started watching it.  Had I known, I probably wouldn’t have pressed play– I’m not a big fan of the found footage sub-genre.  Such movies have to really impress me.  This one did.  It’s told through clever use of police body cams, street cameras, cell phones and more.  It wasn’t distracting and I thought it was a better, and more ingenious, use of found footage than George Romero’s Diary of the Dead.

I’m not going to pretend that Gags the Clown makes a whole lot of sense.  For me, that is part of its appeal, to not understand it all.  Is Gags a ghost from the seventies?  Who knows!  What’s the ending all about?  Couldn’t tell you, but it’s interesting and hints at more.  There’s a great little mythology being birthed here.

The enduring thing about certain movies– midnight, 2AM movies– is that they don’t have to make sense to be enjoyed.  I liked Gags.  It was fun, like watching a really weird reality program.  Sometimes that’s all you need.