The title refers to the booze-soaked, foul-mouthed, likely STD-infected clown (British stand-up comedian Ross Noble) who meets an early, accidental demise while performing at an only child’s 10th birthday party. Because that’s what happens when kids tie your shoelaces together, causing you to trip and fall face-first into the butcher knife left precariously pointing upward in the open dishwasher.
Six years later, that birthday boy, Tom (Tommy Knight of the Doctor Who spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures), is now in high school, but remains haunted by the memory of the mishap, to the point that he shies away from celebrating his change of age each year.
For good reason, too, because — as an underground-clown-society ritual has it — a clown who doesn’t finish a party cannot rest in peace. Thus, Stitches rises from his grave during a surprise party Tom’s buds throw for him while his single mum is away on business. Many of the kids in attendance meet their own grisly deaths, but in methods that only a clown would do, from removing brains using an ice-cream scooper to exploding a head by inflating it like a balloon.
It’s all in bad taste, yet all in good fun. Notice that “good fun” is also not clean, as director/co-writer Conor McMahon keeps the proceedings swimming in gore, often in slow-motion just to delight in the absurdity in Stitches’ actions. If you don’t mind seeing the red stuff, you’ll be focused on how funny the movie is. It’s clever and silly without resorting to stupidity; it can bust a gut in both interpretations of the phrase.
Beyond the partygoers’ shared love of Cutting Crew’s “(I Just) Died in Your Arms Tonight,” there’s nothing scary about Stitches. It only wants to make you laugh (and maybe barf). After its finale, you may never eat eggs again. —Rod Lott