MOVIE REVIEW: Circus Kane is no Rosebud!


It seems that 2017 is destined to be the year of the “creepy clown.” Whether it’s those people dressing up as clowns to scare people on the sides of roads or the upcoming adaptation of Stephen King’s IT, creepy clowns seem to be ruling the big top of horror culture.

While some people love clowns, and see them as something fun, other people have very strong fears about clowns. That’s understandable, because of the bone-white skin and blood red lips and how do so many of them fit into those tiny cars. There’s just something unnatural about clowns.

With that in mind ladies and gentlemen, I direct your attention to the center ring where director Christopher Douglas-Olen Ray gives us Circus Kane!

Spoiler Alert: The theme of this movie is misdirection, which the title character tells us upfront. In fact, the title itself is a sort of misdirect, because while we’re supposed to think of a horror version of Citizen Kane, it’s also a play on the creepy-looking doll of the same name.

The movie’s central character is Balthazar Kane, a magician who once ran a traveling horror and magic show until an accident resulted in the burning death of an audience member. Since then Kane has been a recluse until he invites a group of six social media stars, each of whom reviews and writes about all things horror related, to try out a new fun house show he has created. Think: Ten Little Indians of horror.

Once they arrive, Kane tells our characters that they will all die. They all, of course shrug off the warning, thinking that it’s part of the show. But when they each start dying in very gruesome ways thanks to Kane’s chainsaw-wielding clowns and elaborate booby-traps, it becomes a struggle of survival to get out of Kane’s ‘Fun House’.

If I have one problem with this movie, it’s that it’s too bright. By that I mean that there is too much stage and natural lighting. A horror movie should have a dark atmosphere that sets a creepy mood. This film sorely lacks that. This problem is rather unfortunate as it could have been fixed easily with either a night filter or shooting the movie at night.

On the plus side, Tim Abbel’s over the top performance as Kane works in this movie, giving the audience, the feel of a master show-man trying to keep the audience’s attention so as to distract them from what he has up his sleeve.

The film suffers from over using a lot of the same tired horror/ torture tropes we’ve seen in movies like Saw and House of a Thousand Corpses. Also, some story points just don’t make any sense. Like, for example, why does Kane send a pair of clowns with machine guns to bring the main characters to his exhibit when they’ve all already agreed to go.

With that said, however, some of the actors, like Mark Christopher Lawrence and Richard Moll, do turn in fun performances.

Circus Kane isn’t a wholly original or well filmed, but if you want to see killer clowns and lots of gore, then this movie is for you.

Grade: C-

Circus Kane will be available on VOD on September 8, 2017.

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