Fantastic Fest 2019: ‘Wrinkles the Clown’ is a Constantly Surprising Peek Behind the Mask

Trey Hilburn IIIMovie Reviews, NewsLeave a Comment

You remember that clown that was going around scaring the pants off pedestrians in Florida a few years back? It’s Such a specific question that the answer boils down to an absolute wide-eyed nod of the head, or a befuddled shake of the head that comes with inquiry. Well, guys that clown has a name. His name is Wrinkles and the documentary Wrinkles the Clown drops an exuberant amount of info about the creepy exterior as well as the method behind the madness. But, it may not be headed in exactly the direction you might assume.

You might remember that in 2015 Wrinkles was interviewed by a major news network, following that interview Wrinkles blew up both on the internet and in rural Naples, Florida. Stories circling the clown presupposed that wrinkles was an older war veteran who wasn’t happy with his mundane life as a retiree, and started donning the mask of a clown.

From there, the story began taking on a life of its own. Stickers and other ads were placed around Wrinkles hometown encouraging parents with misbehaving kids or people in need of a good spookin’ to give him a call. The ads included his number and dude began receiving a ton of phone calls each day. Viral videos made Wrinkles a household name and one that parents would use to scare their children into being well-behaved.

At least, that’s the story we were lead to believe. And the truth ends up being stranger than fiction.

Director, Michael Beach Nichols (Welcome to Leith) peels the layers away and exposes pieces behind the mysterious figure. Nichols follows that up by showing how sometimes the most terrifying thing is how society can be an environment of the product.

Whatever the case was/is, the Wrinkles phenomenon launched a lot of more sinister imitators and had the world in a sort of spiraling clown-demonium for a good while. People were dressing up as clowns standing out on country roads, some were even causing violence or inciting so much fear that large groups were threatening violence.

That escalation and the people surrounding and playing into the Wrinkles phenomenon are under examination here too. Nichols does a naturally seamless job of interweaving the bits with Wrinkles and the innocuous fanaticism that is an all too real and at times all too sobering byproduct.

Wrinkles the Clown has an interesting turn in its runtime that completely flips all conceived notions on their head. It takes per-conceived notions about the subject and creates additional questions that extend to the sorta crazy people surrounding the man behind the Wrinkles mask. It also, digs into how hilariously depraved it is that parents would use a clown as a way of punishing their children. A method that takes Santa’s naughty or nice list to new disturbing heights.

It is an effective doc that doesn’t bother lingering too long on its main subject and instead takes its runtime and uses it for jarring turns and as illumination for the dangers that are not wearing a mask. It’s chilling in its unexpected turns and is absolutely socially aware in its raw portrait.

Trey grew up wedged in-between the aisles of a video store. After a Cronenbergian inspired sequence, He has officially become fused with both film and video games. He writes all things pop culture, and has accidentally kicked two sharks and lived. Give him a follow and Tweet him something not too judgy @TreyHilburn.