[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

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.