There’s a moment in co-writer and director Conor McMahon’s horror/comedy “Stitches” where one of the film’s more obnoxious characters meet his maker at the hands of the titular clown. The death is immediately followed by a stylish slow-motion shot of the victim’s head falling into a fountain. It was at this point in the feature that I knew I was in love.
“Stitches” is a lot different than other so-called horror/comedies currently crying for your attention. For starters, McMahon’s effort is actually funny. It resonated with me in much the same way director Anders Jacobsson’s deliriously underrated 1995 effort Evil Ed did all those years ago. I immediately wanted to watch it again, a statement I don’t make on a regular basis.
The film tells the story of a guy named Tom who accidentally murdered a clown at his birthday party when he was a kid. As a teenager, Tom is the odd man out at his high school. The friends who attended his ill-fated birthday celebration all of those years ago aren’t as close as they used to be. Only Vinny and Tom have remained inseparable over the years. In order to bring the mild-mannered nerd out of his shell, Vinny stages a huge birthday bash at Tom’s house. Since his mother is out of town on business, the teenagers have the house to themselves. However, the festivities soon turn bloody when the long-dead clown rises from the grave to get revenge on the brats who killed him.
“Stitches” is an old-school slasher in more ways than one. The killer’s modus operandi isn’t entirely original, and the kids are really nothing more than stock characters earmarked for death. However, McMahon’s tongue-in-cheek approach to the material and his willingness to deliver buckets of gore help separate the film from the direct-to-video herd. The flick even feels new when it’s treading familiar ground. And this is from a guy who generally hates slashers.
Ross Noble’s deadpan performance as Stitches also helps keep the film feeling fresh. And while he delivers some truly cringe-worthy one-liners over the course of the feature, he never seems to treat them very seriously. In fact, Stitches seems more inconvenienced by the whole “back from the dead” scenario and everything involved with it. He might be a wise-cracking undead killer, but you kind of feel bad for the guy at times.
Director Conor McMahon’s “Stitches” is a film genre fans need to seek out as soon as possible. It’s a wonderfully bloody old-school horror/comedy mixed with some of the bloodiest and most inventive kills I’ve seen in a while. Should McMahon and company decide to deliver on the sequel set up during the film’s final frames, I can’t say that I would complain. More Stitches isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A cult classic in the making, for sure.
Conor McMahon (director) / Conor McMahon, David O’Brien (screenplay)
CAST: Ross Noble … Stitches
Tommy Knight … Tom
Shane Murray Corcoran … Vinny
Gemma-Leah Devereux … Kate
Thommas Kane Byrnes … Bulger
Eoghan McQuinn … Richie
Roisin Barron … Sarah
Hugh Mulhern … Paul