Lionsgate // 2006 // 81 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 25th, 2006
His joy is your pain.
"Pain" is the operative word here.
Years ago, a psychotic clown named Mr. Jingles went on a killing spree, murdering a young girl's family right in front of her. Before he could finish his sinister work, a pair of enterprising, though incredibly wooden, cops burst in and gun the wacky clown down. Now, Angie Randall (Kelli Jensen), that little girl menaced so long ago, is all grown up and fresh out of the mental ward.
She returns home and tentatively tries to plug into her social network again. Her selfless friends plan a birthday party to welcome her back into the fold, and invite some horny guys over to liven up the festivities. Little do they know that on the other end of town, people are dying in gruesome ways. And it looks like it's a clown who's responsible.
Wait. No...you don't think that...no. Not...Mr. Jingles?!?
Look, there's no use sugar-coating this. Mr. Jingles is pretty sucky. However, this homegrown slasher has a few things going for it, which save it from complete irrelevancy. These guys have tried to make their homegrown horror endeavor as messy as possible (with what surely was an itsy-bitsy budget). Karo syrup or some derivative flies liberally, even when the physics of the particular scenario forbid it, and the props, while primitive, are put to good use and covered in lots of slime. It's obvious the filmmakers wanted to make a gorefest, as the "horror" aspect of the flick comes not form suspense or terror, but gross-out maneuvers.
There's a castration sequence, some disemboweling, a few axes thrown into the head, a disemboweling, and a few more axes throw into the head. Each of these delightful little scenes is accompanied by lots of fluid and high-pitched screaming. Again, movie stinks, but goremeisters should at least appreciate the effort the crew behind Mr. Jingles put forth to coat their movie in a thick layer of sinew.
Unfortunately, that's the sum total of kudos I can scrape together for this movie. The most egregious example of suckiness is the horrid video quality. I don't know what kind of camera the director used, but he forgot to remove the "astigmatism lens." Honestly, it seemed like the whole thing was few degrees out of focus, as if I were watching it with a pair of glasses from two or three prescriptions back. The transfer is anamorphic widescreen, and it looks digital, but I would suggest springing for a burlier camera next time.
Story-wise...well, there is no story. In its place is time-killing hoo-hah designed solely as a way to get us from one killing to the next. The whole "traumatized teenager" thing involves a payoff at the end, but it's not the least but engrossing. No, the star of Mr. Jingles is the gore effects department, even if that's just the filmmaker's brothers hanging out in his basement or something.
Finally, Mr. Jingles himself. I'm all for killer clowns, and I dug the costume, but the dude got annoying fast. The maniacal cackling and high-pitched line delivery made his screen time nigh-unbearable, even if it was quickly followed by a boatload of fake killing.
Mr. Jingles isn't a total brain-stabbing. The gore is fun and it doesn't take itself very seriously. The good parts, however, are overwhelmed by the bad -- garbage acting, a nonsense story, an irritating villain, accursed video quality -- leading to a net negative. A no-brains Lionsgate presentation (just trailers for extras) does nothing to improve the film's standing with the court.
Take your red nose and your bloody hatchet and go ride a unicycle or something.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 81 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated