Apocalypse Clown review – gag-filled comedy in post-apocalyptic Ireland

This comedy sees a troupe of clowns, living statues and ravers roaming about a dystopia where electricity has been stopped by a solar flare

For years, Bobcat Goldthwait’s cult classic Shakes the Clown was the only adult-oriented black comedy featuring an almost all-clown list of dramatis personae. But hooray – now there’s another one! Or nearly, because admittedly there are a few nonclown characters here. This superbly titled film is a goofy, wildly uneven but ultimately watchable low-budget Irish caprice that mostly revolves around an ad hoc troupe of outsider clowns (a phrase that may be a tautology) who are thrown together when a freak solar flare wipes out all the electricity in Ireland, or maybe the world.

Luckily, Bobo (David Earl), a washed-up clown with a squirty-flower boutonniere and little to no talent, does have a wind-up car that doesn’t need electricity. He ends up piling in the vehicle with prissy aspirant mime-clown Pepe (Fionn Foley), a helium-voiced street clown named Funzo (Natalie Palamides, giving an antic scene-stealer of a performance) who may have “gone Scary” judging by her Pennywise look, duplicitous gag-thief The Great Alfonso (Ivan Kaye) and, strapped to the car roof, the corpse of Pepe’s erstwhile mentor, clown emeritus Jean DuCocque (Barry McGovern).

Along the way, they meet up with Jenny (Amy De Bhrún), a journalist who once hooked up with Bobo in a broom cupboard, a fact that her colleagues never let her forget. Jenny is determined to prove her theory about how the solar flare is connected to various other conspiracy theories, and ends up with blowhard Alfonso seeking out an ageing, reclusive former boyband member who is called “Tim from Bromanz” (Tadhg Murphy). The rest of the gang fall in with some ravers waiting out the apocalypse with buckets full of drugs, until two living statues who have a beef with Fonzo (one who looks like a bronzed James Joyce and the other a green-skinned Statue of Liberty), catch up with them again in a running gag that somehow gets funnier as the film unfurls.

Obviously, the above will suggest that the plot is an absurdist farce that keeps piling on ridiculous elements and crazy twists of fortune, just like the rickety human tower the clowns put on as a spectacle for an audience of murderous children. That’s exactly what makes it fun, even if some of the jokes splat like cream pies. There’s always another one seconds later, and director George Kane keeps the energy up throughout, helped along by a game-for-it cast that know exactly how to pitch the material.

• Apocalypse Clown is released on 1 September in UK and Irish cinemas, with an Australia release to be confirmed.

Contributor

Leslie Felperin

The GuardianTramp

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