Naemi Victoria sends in the clowns.

Who will have the last laugh when the world ends? Clowns, apparently. At least according to George Kane’s Apocalypse Clown which recently won Best Irish Film at the 35th Galway Film Fleadh. The film certainly delivers what the title promises. It follows a group of three disheartened clowns who haven’t looked on the bright side in a while, at least not until a major solar flare throws the world into utter chaos. The eccentric trio then teams up with an ambition-riddled reporter and embark on an adventurous journey to lay the increasingly smelly corpse of clowning idol Jean DuCocque to rest. 

Considering the dead clown’s name, one might already be able to tell which direction the film’s humour is heading. Prepare yourselves for a 102-minute-long exploration of the mysterious depths of human existence told through a delicate repertoire of subtle jests. Joking aside, the name ‘DuCoque’ certainly heralds the overall tone of Apocalypse Clown which eagerly seizes any opportunity for clownish comedy. Some bits are good for a laugh. Others are more deserving of an exhausted eyeroll. Either way, the punchlines keep coming.

Apocalypse Clown’s plot is firmly set in Ireland but quickly moves from one location to the next. From Dublin to a funeral with ambivalent pantomiming, to a forest rave where laughter is not the best medicine, drugs are.  The film lives from its fast-paced storytelling. It doesn’t give the audience much time to reminisce about the events unfolding on screen. Racing from one absurd scene to the next in a yellow Renault 4, the film hits the odd speed bump though. Some of the jokes slip on a banana peel – but fail to land. At other times, the pacing feels off; scenes stick around for too long and leave you wondering why characters are still talking.  

In terms of performances, Natalie Palamides’ is one of the most memorable. She plays a self-taught ‘street-clown’ called Funzo who is probably related to Stephen King’s IT. Where Funzo goes, chaos follows. This becomes clear early on when she starts a bitter feud against her rivals, namely the Statue of Liberty and James Joyce. The two living statues become driving (literally) antagonists in the narrative and start chasing the scary clown and her friends in a quest for revenge. What may sound like an average Friday afternoon for Funzo is certainly something we haven’t seen on screen before. Her tendency toward the occasional bloodshed is likely the main contributor to the IFCO rating of the film. “Strong language and violent scenes” is a nice way of putting it. 

All in all, Apocalypse Clown promises an unhinged road trip that embraces laughter-for-laughter’s-sake. While its highly concentrated blend of humour does not cater to all tastes, the sheer number of jokes and ridiculous visuals will get at least one laugh out of you. And if not, it’s worth waiting till the credits. They will have you marvel at jobs like ‘juggling consultant’ and then wonder what their day-to-day must look like.

Apocalypse Clown is in cinemas from 1st September 2023.


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