[Fantastic Fest review] ‘WRINKLES THE CLOWN’ a doc about an unidentified clown who trades in terrorizing children


Preston Barta // Features Editor


Not rated, 78 minutes.
Director: Michael Beach Nichols
Writers: Michael Beach Nichols and Christopher K. Walker

AUSTIN – WRINKLES THE CLOWN premiered at Fantastic Fest in Austin last week, and it was one of the most intriguing titles in the weirdo litter. I mean, who wouldn’t want to know more about a documentary that centers on an unidentified clown living in Naples, Florida, who (for a fee) will scare misbehaving children of desperate parents?

Any parent knows trying to iron out the behavioral kinks of your kids is a tough gig. So maybe traumatizing your babies for life by employing a terrifying clown will make the headaches go away. Of course, I’m kidding. But it sure is fascinating to meet the parents who thought it was a good idea.

Captured and steered by filmmaker Michael Beach Nichols (WELCOME TO LEITH), WRINKLES THE CLOWN kicks off as a standard documentary that introduces us to an older man who claims he is the titular terrorizer. He’s just a dude living in his van (down by the river) trying to make a quick buck by putting the fear of God in preteens.

Nichols walks us through the process of getting into contact with Wrinkles (you can call 407-734-0254 right now to leave a message and book an appointment) and features sit-downs with children and parents who used his services.

You see clips of the clown in action, the principle one being Wrinkles hiding underneath a sleeping girl’s bed (look it up on YouTube). But then the film seems a bit off and goes in an unexpected direction that has so much more on its mind. Oh, I’m itching to tell you the truth.

What unfolds is a twisted experience that is unlike any other documentary. The journey of being wowed, confused and shocked is something that will never leave your memory. It’s a new kind of nightmare.

Hurry! See it before someone spills its secrets.

Grade: B

WRINKLES THE CLOWN opens in select theaters on Friday. It will also be available on VOD.

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.