Coulrophobia Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by Taxi For Otis Productions
Written and directed by Warren Speed
2016, 85 minutes, Rated 18
DVD released on 13th November 2017
Pete Bennett as Twitch Grock
Daniella D'Ville as Celeste Grock
Roxy Bordeaux as Gretchen Grock
Warren Speed as Milo Grock
On the lam from the law and their vengeful father, a murderous circus troupe hide out in the Scottish Highlands, bickering, drinking and practicing their funny games. They’re not so hidden that they don’t frequently run into fresh meat for violation or murder though; and so it is that they cross paths with a Roller Derby team out camping for the weekend. That gives writer, director and actor Warren Speed plenty of human meat puppets to murder, violate and ogle for 80 minutes; shedding blood and clothes with the same glee as he did in his Zombie Women of Satan and its sequel. But this time, with more clowns.
Coulrophobia is a meaner, nastier movie than its predecessors – the Devil’s Rejects style follow-up to his House of 1000 Corpses (the Zombie Women of Satan films). The crude, lewd strain of British humour is still there, but it’s slightly dialled back in favour of more torture and brutalisation. Held hostage by the demented Grock family (boss lady Celeste, muscle Milo, motormouth Twitch and child-like Gretchen) the women are forced to compete for survival in a series of games held in… a really crap tent. It’s a Texas Chain Saw Massacre set on a drizzly camp site with folding chairs and inflatable airbeds. If it had a budget, this would be seriously disturbing, genuinely offensive stuff. As it is, it’s hard to be particularly offended by a massacre in a drab old tent. And Pete Bennett, never shutting up.
The Big Brother star is the only known quantity in a cast of unknowns, amateurs and Warren Speed himself. While Bennett does lend the film an unusual, unique sense of personality, it’s Speed who delivers the ‘best’ performance, as the frustrated pisshead mute Milo. Everyone else operates on varying degrees of terrible, but that’s to be expected on a film of such limited budget, and it sort of works with the naturalistic style and writing on show elsewhere. While the effects and acting might be bad, the writing is genuinely amusing, with some excellently creative British swearing and threats being used by killer and innocent alike. Fans of Speed's previous movies should lap this up as with previous entries, while newcomers will be equally mortified and confused. It's a more deliberate, polished movie than Zombie Women of Satan and its sequel, with more clarity and structure, but the less original story and amped-up torture element make it less of an unusual prospect.
Coulrophobia represents both the best and worst of no-budget horror cinema. On the one hand, it’s amateurish, shoddy and mildly ugly. On the other, it owns its cheapness, channelling it into a punk spirit that makes it difficult to dismiss entirely. It's still clowning around, but there's a ferocity there, behind the greasepaint smile.