Sometimes, you just need a good laugh- even if it is from a horror movie. Horror comedies don’t always hit the funny bone the right way, but when they do they can be some of the most memorable and long lasting in the genre. STITCHES sets the stage for what could be a potentially hilarious and memorable horror icon, but the film really loses steam about halfway through. There are plenty of wisecracking one liners littered throughout and somehow Conor McMahon cannot quite bring the film to a conclusion that’s as satisfying as the opening and parts of the middle.
Ross Noble stars as Stitches, a clown with a foul mouth and a bad attitude hired for a kids birthday party. When the kids end up being just as miserable as he is the party takes a serious turn for the worse when a prank pulled by the kids causes a horrible accident that kills Stitches. Stricken with grief the birthday boy, Tom (Tommy Knight) watches the funeral and later follows a group of clowns that perform some ritual in the basement of a mausoleum and warn the child that a clown’s soul cannot rest unless he finishes a party. Fast forward six years as Tom’s birthday rolls around and with his mother out of town his friends- and the rest of the school- gathers at his house for a huge party, with Stitches rising from the grave to attend as well and finish off the party he never finished six years earlier.
The most notable issue that I had with STITCHES personally is that it starts off fantastic with the young Tom’s birthday party with Noble providing quite a bit of laughs and then of course the insanely gory accident that takes his life. It slows down a bit when it fast forwards six years so we can meet all of Tom’s friends as they are now, but remains pretty hilarious with a slew of really crude and cruel jokes. This is where you sort of stop caring about any of the potential victims outside of Tom as it is clear he has some serious anxiety issues thanks to the bloody memory of his birthday that day. There’s also the exception of his love interest, Kate, who comes and goes throughout the film so you can’t really every sympathize with her even though she’s given no real reason not to care if she lives or dies.
Given that STITCHES is in no way a “serious” movie I can overlook the inclusion of unlikeable characters, but the scattershot nature of the kills and the fact that it feels like the film continues to lose momentum as it moves along is what keeps me from really loving it. Some of the kills themselves are pretty cool and the effects are well done, but they aren’t set up in a way that gives the film any tension or even by giving it any energy leading into the next scene. Instead it sort of just feels like a comedian telling a slew of punch lines with absolutely no buildup- which might work more if each punch line was a side splitter as opposed to just occasionally chuckle worthy.
Noble is a lot of fun as Stitches and it’s obvious that they aren’t trying to make him the next Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees by selling him as the unstoppable boogeyman, but instead just a wisecracking killer that may potentially lead to a franchise. However, many of the scenes with Noble are brief and mostly poorly fleshed out. Most of the time Noble has a pretty fun line and listening to him mumble “bastards” under his breath is a hoot, but personally I would have liked some more drawn out moments with the actor and his victims rather than a collection of okay kills in slow motion. Each kill mimics a moment from the fateful birthday party and the one that most resembles what I wanted more of was the victim where Stitches reenacts the balloon animal. That scene takes its time setting up and has one of the more satisfying gore moments of the middle stretching to the finale.
STITCHES definitely has the potential to be a cult classic for how goofy and over-the-top it is with its humor in relation to gore. It also is ridiculously quotable from all the teen characters to Stitches himself and I don’t foresee anyone being so bored that they can’t get a kick out of majority of the film. McMahon’s film feels somewhat unfocused at times leading into the finale which sets up kind of a nifty little bit of mythology that would make this a pretty fun franchise potentially. As it is, STITCHES may not be as memorable as I wanted it to be, but a lot of the jokes are funny enough and the gore satisfying enough for horror fans to give a chance.