Apocalypse Clown (2023) poster

Apocalypse Clown (2023)


Ireland. 2023.


Director – George Kane, Screenplay – Demian Fox, George Kane, Shane O’Brien & James Walmsley, Producers – Morgan Bushe & James Dean, Photography – Dave Grennan, Music – Stephen McKeon, Visual Effects – Gabha Studios, Optical Sandwich & Umedia VFX (Supervisor – Jelmen Palsterman), Special Effects – FilmFX Ireland (Supervisors – Aidan Byrne & Brendan Byrne), Production Design – Martin Goulding. Production Company – Fis Eireann (Screen Ireland)/RTE/UFund/BCP Asset Management/The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland/Namesake Films/Umedia/Fastnet Films.


David Earl (Bobo/Ken), Natalie Palamides (Funzo/Janet), Amy De Bruhn (Jenny Malone), Fionn Foley (Pepe/Dean), Ivan Kaye (The Great Alphonse), Tadgh Murphy (Tin from Bromanz), James Walmsley (Statue of Liberty), Shane O’Brien (James Joyce), Barry McGovern (Jean DuCoque), Tony Cantwell (Topknot), Pollyanna Macintosh (Matriarch), Erin McGathy (Edith), Marco Willie Rodrigues (Gustavo)


Pepe is a trainee mime in the clown school of Jean DuCoque in Naherbawn, north of Dublin. DuCoque abruptly drops dead in the midst of berating Pepe how awful his performance is. Reporter Jenny Malone is trying to get her editor interested in a story about the vast solar flare that is approaching the Earth but is instead assigned to cover DuCoque’s funeral. Meanwhile, after being fired from his performance at a children’s hospital, Bobo gives on his childhood dream of being a clown, believing the world no longer wants clowns. He has an unrequited love for Jenny with whom he was once involved. Upon learning that Jenny is heading to the funeral, he follows. Also descending on the funeral is Pepe; Funzo, a disturbed homeless street clown who is pursued by two fellow street performers she attacked; and The Great Alphonse, a self-important clown from the 1990s who is planning a big comeback. During the midst of the funeral, the solar flare strikes. They emerge to find the world in chaos with all electronics dead. The only vehicle that will work is Bobo’s self-winding clown car. Alphonse wants to get back for his big performance, Pepe wants to bury DuCoque with proper respect, and Bobo only seeks to reunite with Jenny, while she wants to get the big story out. Together they set out across the countryside where Bobo believes that with no tv they can take the joy of clowning back to people.

The first thing that should be said before sitting down to watch Apocalypse Clown is that it is not another Killer Clown film. This has been a popular genre since the success of It (2017), which inspired an alley of low-budget killer clown films – see Killer Clown Films. In making a point of reading as little as possible about a film before watching, the initial assumption I made was that Apocalypse Clown was another of these – the title certainly sounds like it is. However, this proved to not be the case and what we have is actually a comedy about a troupe of clowns trying to survive in the aftermath of a Catastrophe. That said, we do we do get one section of dialogue where reference is made to the It film.

Apocalypse Clown in fact works very well with its oddball premise. Each of the principal actors crafts a unique character – David Earl, who was also the inventor from the charming Brian and Charles (2022), as the sad sack clown trying to get his love back; Amy De Bruhn as the object of his affections, a journalist trying to get the story of her life out; Fionn Foley as the terrible mime Pepe trying to take his mentor for burial. The show is fairly much stolen by Natalie Palamides as the disturbed clown Funzo who has a scary answer for most things all delivered in a kewpie doll voice. Also immensely entertaining is Ivan Kaye as the boisterous, pompously puffed-up Alphonse on the trail of his comeback and sliding over to become the villain in the latter half.

Clowns following the collapse of civilisation - Funzo (Natalie Palamides), Bobo (David Earl), The Great Alphonse (Ivan Kaye), Jenny (Amy De Bruhn) and Pepe (Fionn Foley) in Apocalypse Clown (2023)
Clowns following the collapse of civilisation – (l to r) Funzo (Natalie Palamides), Bobo (David Earl), The Great Alphonse (Ivan Kaye), Jenny (Amy De Bruhn) and Pepe (Fionn Foley)

In some ways Apocalypse Clown almost feels like it is going to be a clown version of The Postman (1997) – how a troupe of clowns bring society back together by clowning rather than the postal service – but the film’s humour is far more mordant than that. The characters are a likeable bunch of losers and no-hopers – the film is not always easy on them but does have an affection for the characters. The latter third of the show becomes more of a standard drama with a clearcut villain and a plot to save the day, but it works its way there with an enormous degree of engagement.

There are some minor improbabilities – that after only a single night, the entirety of society seems to have collapsed into anarchy and in many cases vanished. There are no vehicles on the road, no people in the streets where at the very least you would be getting a very confused populace wondering what has happened and clamouring for help. Not to mention there is the question of how severe a solar flare would be – it may disrupt electronics and even the power grid, in some cases possibly even fry electronics. On the other hand, basic electrics like your toaster and vacuum cleaner and older vehicles that don’t use electronics would remain unaffected.

Apocalypse Clown was the second feature film for Irish director George Kane who had previously made Discoverdale (2012), as well as worked in a number of UK comedy tv series.

(Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Natalie Palamides) at this site’s Best of 2023 Awards).

Trailer here

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