Clowns are scary, but there's something equally scary, in a different way, about a movie that can't capitalize on that fact. The Clown At Midnight, a Canadian slasher film that could have come straight out of 1983, has as its villain a man attired in the costume of Pagliacci, the murderous opera clown, but will chill only the most inexperienced horror-movie viewers. Sarah Lassez—a sort of younger, duller version of Moira Kelly—stars as a high-school student who inexplicably takes on a drama-class assignment in which she must clean up the creepy old theater in which her opera-star mother was murdered years earlier. Teaming up with a photogenic bunch of potential victims (including singer and Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air cast member Tatyana Ali), she finds herself plagued both by eerie psychic flashes of the murder and the presence of creepy guest stars Christopher Plummer and a disheveled-looking Margot Kidder. If watching The Clown At Midnight with a bunch of wagering friends, here's the inside track on whom to root for to survive the film: Don't bet on the scream-prone geek, the cowardly football player, the sexually aggressive popular girl, or the token black and gay characters. Even in the post-Scream era—and Clown makes a few gestures toward Scream-like self-awareness—these aren't the sort of people who are likely to make it out alive. On the other hand, do bet that (relatively) high-profile guest stars who disappear after the first scene haven't dropped out for good. Or, better yet, skip the movie, put on some clown make-up, and scare your neighbors. It'll be more fun.
More from The A.V. Club