2019 | DIR: MICHAEL BEACH NICHOLS | STARRING: WRINKLES THE CLOWN, DB LAMBERT | REVIEW BY GLENN COCHRANE.
Wrinkles The Clown arrived in 2015 thanks to a YouTube video, which went viral and scared the living shit out of millions of people. Recorded on a nanny-cam the video showed Wrinkles appear from beneath a sleeping girl's bed, leering over her and eventually disabling the camera. It was an 80-second video that spawned an Urban Legend, not unlike Slender Man, and within months more videos appeared online. Wrinkles was spotted glaring through bedroom windows, hiding in back yards and scrounging through trash at night. His image was terrifying and no sooner had his presence stirred up panic amongst the community, his image suddenly appeared on stickers all over the state of Florida alongside a cell-phone number.
An anonymous Facebook page also appeared where countless sightings were uploaded, and before long his legend was terrorising susceptible minds. Much like the curse of Bloody Mary or the likes of Candyman, Wrinkles The Clown became a game of chance for kids. To dial his phone number would be to bring upon unimaginable horrors, and as so many reaction videos show, kids were being met with an unsettling voice recording offering services to whoever needs a good scare.
Yes, as it turned out Wrinkles The Clown was no more than a regular guy offering his service for “a few hundred bucks” per scare and the new documentary WRINKLES THE CLOWN explores his rising legend, dating it back to the start, and examining the psychology of his so-called 'performance'.
Running at 75-minutes the film is a simple enquiry of who Wrinkles is, why he's resonated so profoundly, and how his business impacts fragile minds. Featuring interviews with psychologists, victims and happy customers alike, director Michael Beach Nicholas follows the man behind the mask - keeping his identity concealed – and questions the ethical side to what he does. Children recount their sleepless nights and deep-seeded anxieties, showing the adverse affect of Wrinkle's work, while other parents explain using him as a means to disciplining their kids. The true detriment to his business is yet to be seen, but the one certainty is that folks are divided.
It must be stated that Wrinkles does not physically interfere with this targets. He never touches people or break any laws. He is simply a man-for-hire who arranges elaborate pranks for happy clients.
Perhaps the most compelling aspect of the documentary is the various revelations strategically placed throughout. Without revealing his identity the man behind the mask offers a fascinating insight into his method, providing raw footage of the many viral videos, proving that each and every victim was, indeed, in on the joke... or had at least acquired his service. It also details his own fears as copy-cat cases arise and a wide-spread “creepy clown” epidemic stirs up vulnerable communities.
WRINKLES THE CLOWN is a curious document that contextualises urban legends and online hysteria. It is told with a measured sense of frivolity and mirth, and delights in freaking out its audience with unexpected twists and turns. Coulrophobia is the fear of clowns and those who suffer from it might want to steer well clear of this one, but I would encourage others to catch it.