Stitches is a fairly recent addition to the ever expanding menagerie of teen slasher horror comedy movies. The film evidently takes inspiration from previous teen slasher comedy films such as Scream, Hell Night, and it also feels like the film took major inspiration from the crazy Killer Klowns From Outer Space. However, Stitches is noteworthy for being a slasher movie made by an Irish film company, and starring legendary English comedian Ross Noble as the titular ‘Stitches’ Grindle, a sleazy clown who returns from the dead to seek revenge six years after he was accidentally killed during a child’s birthday party.
All things considered, Stitches is much better than many other slasher films that have been released throughout the years. Stitches learnt from it’s predecessors and decided to embrace the slasher movie cliches whilst adding it’s own twist of zany British humor and bizarre supernatural elements. Technically, Stitches is a very well produced film: the cinematography, acting, writing, lighting, and editing are near flawless. The film is a very impressive spectacle to watch, especially when one considers that it was made on a technically ‘low budget’ of 600,000 euros. Even the special effects pull no punches as the film utilizes a mixture of practical effects and CGI to create scenes of beautiful, visceral brutality when it comes to onscreen blood and gore. Thematically, Stitches employs a ‘splatstick’ style – similar to that of Braindead and Bad Taste – when it comes the film’s death scenes, and Stitches delivers when it comes to killing off the not-so-innocent main characters. Each death scene is violently brutal, however, due to the film’s ridiculous tone, the death scenes aren’t disturbing because of the ironic comedy that comes with each character’s death, and the relief that a very humorous joke will always directly follow every violent scene of blood and gore to lighten the mood after each kill.
However, plot-wise, Stitches is a very ‘paint by numbers’ teen slasher movie. The film’s main characters are the predictable stereotypes of the slasher movie – The nerd, the jock, the slut, the stoner, the unwanted dickhead – each with a comedically British flair, and Stitches even manages to add a few new stereotypical characters to make the film feel very up to date after 30 years of predictable slasher films. That being said, though, the plot is incredibly predictable, with the film focusing on the teenagers throughout the majority of the film and saving the main attraction, Stitches the clown, for the final act of carnage and mayhem. These types of plots usually wind up being boring for a viewer to watch as the characters are poorly written fodder for the villain, who doesn’t show up until the third act. Hell Night, The House On Sorority Row and Prom Night are all examples of when this story-line has been done rather poorly. However, one great saving grace about Stitches is that throughout the first two acts of teenage comedy, the main characters are quite well-written, and are portrayed by decent actors delivering genuinely funny dialogue cues for a change. Thus, the first two predictable acts of the film are refreshingly enjoyable, even if the titular Stitches is nowhere to be found.
However, one aspect of the film stands out against all others is the portrayal of Stitches the clown by Ross Noble. Noble, who was actually a clown/street performer before he became a widely celebrated stand-up comedian, adds his own brand of bizarre, surrealistic comedy to the character (in fact: during production, Ross Noble near enough wrote the character of Stitches himself) thus making Stitches the clown the greatest aspect of the entire film. Ross Noble steals the show and his portrayal of Stitches is just so much fun to watch every-time he’s onscreen whether he’s stalking teenagers, killing is victims, or riding tiny tricycles down dark roads. It truly feels like Ross Noble had a blast playing Stitches. In fact, as evident by the post-credits bloopers, it looks like everybody involved just had a damn good time making the film, and that type of exuberant enthusiasm really shows onscreen.
Stitches is a definite recommendation, it’s one of the better slasher movies to exist and it’s just so enjoyable to watch. Ross Noble is magnificent, the special effects are astounding, and the film is very competently put together. In my opinion, Stitches is a slasher film that is far more memorable than the many other slasher films that precede it. I personally love this film, and I feel that horror fans, and fans of Ross Noble, should give Stitches the love that the film deserves.