October 4, 2019 Wrinkles the Clown (Documentary Review)
In 2019, there is definitely no shortage of clown material. From the immense popularity surrounding the revival of Stephen King’s It to American Horror Story, clowns are everywhere in the media. However, how many of those clowns can you personally reach out to? Most do not have Pennywise on speed dial, although, many would love to. That is the premise behind the new Documentary Wrinkles the Clown, which hit theaters and on demand October 4th through Magnet Releasing.
The work of Writer/Director Michael Beach Nichols, alongside Co-Writer Christopher K. Walker, the plot follows this mysterious figure, providing the necessary backstory to an infamous face. In late 2014, a low-res video of a person in a clown mask emerging from underneath a sleeping child’s bed surfaced on YouTube. The description explained that a clown named “Wrinkles” that resided in southwest Florida had been hired by the child’s parents to scare them into behaving better.
Soon, more videos kept appearing all over the internet, catapulting Wrinkles to a viral sensation. This almost Mockumentary on Wrinkles follows the unidentified man behind the mask. It tackled the internet culture and the snowball effect associated with it. Wrinkles became more than just an “internet legend” that is on par with Creepypasta’s such as Slenderman, as kids ‘challenge’ themselves to call Wrinkles and see if he would answer. Some of his voicemails range from harmless to terrifying as parents and concerned citizens call and harass Wrinkles, tossing death threats and violence if he were to come near their children.
The most frightening clip in the entire film is the bedroom scene. It is shot in black and white on a nanny cam in complete silence. All you see is a sleeping child, completely unaware that the lower part of their bed is creaking open and that a clown is crawling out. After that, the film splits between following the daily life of the man behind the persona and the cult-like following that has spawned as a result of his existence online. This is the scene solely responsible for the hype.
The film treats Wrinkles as the creepy story told around the campfire, but instead viewers get to see the everyday life behind Bloody Mary when she is not haunting the mirror in your bathroom. The majority of the film shows the viral culture of kids and how they react to media. Kids look at Wrinkles like a viral game, filming themselves call him as if it were a game of truth or dare. This is an accurate depiction of folklore in the digital age. It is less telling stories in the dark at sleepovers and more breaking out the camera to film yourselves doing something ‘scary.’ This sparks the overload of Wrinkles content online. There are videos of him everywhere, stalking darkened street corners, sulking at random carnivals and events at town, and hiding behind houses.
All of this occurs in-between random confessionals of Wrinkles himself, the man responsible for the legend as he goes about his every-day life in his trailer. Wrinkles is a retired older man, just looking for a way to pass the time when he picked up this gig. While he thinks the concept of calling a scary clown to scare kids straight it pretty bizarre, he still gets up every day and stocks up on clown makeup to get the job done.
He mentions society’s obsession with clowns – from John Wayne Gacy to Pennywise and Twisty the clown. Around the time Wrinkles first emerged there was an influx of clown sightings popping up all around the country. Some people thought it was a marketing ploy for 2017’s It while others felt true torment. Wrinkles also inspired many copycat clowns to pop up in the Florida area, adding to the hatred and fear of the caricature.
While Wrinkles the Clown markets itself as a terrifying piece of cinema, it is more or less a Mocumentary on an internet legend. The scariest parts of the film were revealed in the trailer, while the rest of the film was centered on the internet culture surrounding new age urban legends and how society reacts to them. It is slightly lackluster if you are going into it looking for a horrifying take on the story behind Wrinkles so the film can seem a bit disappointing. It’s drawn-out and not much really happens aside from the melodramatic visuals of Wrinkles going about his daily life. That said, it’s more so a sad depiction of the life of the man behind Wrinkles who did not really ask for this attention, but was forced into the limelight by others due to their fascination.
The moral of the story is up to interpretation by the viewer. Is Wrinkles truly the villain that society paints him as, or are the real villains those that seek him out to torment their children and send death threats? It touches on how all too often the line is blurred between reality and the fake. Society is often attracted to the macabre, seeking out terrifying stories for amusement, but never really thinking of the consequences. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives Wrinkles the Clown 2.5 out of 5 stars.