A few years ago, news and social media posts went viral over a mysterious clown that randomly appeared late at night in Green Bay, Wisconsin. That clown’s name was Gags and he has his own feature film which premiered in Wisconsin on Wednesday. Gags is a found-footage horror film that consists of four loosely tied stories happening on the same night. There is the local news crew covering the Gags craze, while a group of High School kids decide to take advantage of the clown fear sweeping the city to cause a little trouble. Meanwhile, a pair of cops are trying to help maintain order in a city obsessed with Gags and a conservative podcast host decides to do a little clown hunting. All of them are in for a night they will not soon forget.
I traveled an hour and a half to Green Bay for the premiere of Gags and it was well worth the trip. Director and Gags creator, Adam Krause, gives us one of the best found footage films to date, be it Hollywood or Indie. Between his sharp direction and the tight editing of John Pata, the film has a creepy kinetic energy that never slows down. The script that Krause and Pata have crafted gives the perfect balance between horror and humor. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of humor in the film. It did not take away from the story and provided a nice release between the more intense scenes. Unlike many entries into the found footage genre, Gags has an amazing instrumental score that helped maintain a creepy atmosphere over the course of the story. It has a cinematic feel that is not common in found-footage films, and it works well with the storytelling. The special effects are used sparingly but effectively and the makeup was fantastic. This is a high-quality production that does not suffer from shortfalls that are common in Indie cinema.
One of the problems I’ve encountered with found-footage is that the characters don’t always come across as realistic. Most of the time the characters feel like actors playing to the camera. This is not the case in Gags, where all of the performances felt genuine, from dialog delivery to reactions when Gags is sighted. All of the characters were interesting and represented various real world perspectives which was a nice touch. Some of my favorite humorous moments where with the news reporter, Heather Duprey, and her camera man, Dale Russell. Heather is played by Lauren Ashley Carter and Dale by Wyatt Kuether. Both characters had the entire audience roaring. Kuether especially had a few moments where his line delivery was comedic gold. Eric Heuvelman reprises his role as Gags from the short film that inspired the feature. He manages to bring a dark and threatening presence to a character that mostly stands still while holding black balloons. This made the moments when he did move that much scarier. Heuvelman’s performance along with Krause’s direction and Pata’s editing make Gags a very memorable character. Lookout Pennywise, there is a new clown in town.
Gags is a fun and freaky found-footage film that embodies everything I love about independent horror. It knows what type of film it is and plays to its strengths. I also like the fact that this was a non-nihilistic horror film. Most of the modern horror movies seem to want to suppress the audience with how awful things are, but not Gags. This has a lively, playful spirit to it while also maintaining its horror edge.
Gags does not have distribution yet, but I imagine it won’t be too long before you see the clown from Green Bay on the video shelves and V.O.D. I would recommend this film to everyone and think it would make a great introduction to the horror genre. 10 out of 10.
For more on Gags, check out their official website at https://www.gagsfilm.com