We’ve all heard of the boogeyman or the urban legend behind Bloody Mary, and since the introduction of the internet, mythical figures such as the Slender Man has spread across social platforms like wildfire. With the ever-changing beast that online mediums can deliver, it seemed inevitable that one such phantom or creature would kick up a hornet’s nest causing a controversial scene that would set tongues wagging and activate a series of debates about the rights and wrongs of social interaction and mischief.
Enter Wrinkles the Clown when a video was uploaded on YouTube back in 2015 that depicted a clown hidden beneath the bed of a young girl, and emerges to turn off the camera.
The video soon went viral and a further succession of videos that showed Wrinkles scaring more kids, by entering their homes which in turn spurred a series of Wrinkles sightings across America. The man beneath the clown mask would pursue his project further by himself as a scary clown for hire, sparking an interest from parents willing to subject their own children to the threat of Wrinkles visiting them should they misbehave. Such a controversial action at its heart and by promoting negative reinforcement in parenting styles, the subject would warrant further scrutiny from the public and dividing many.
Whether you believe in his methods or not, the man behind the mask, projected as a 65 year old retired man has seen his business propel beyond his expectations, and receives numerous phone calls on a daily basis, either from the afore-mentioned parents, or from bewildered or adventurous young kids pushing their own boundaries to seek out Wrinkles and find out if he truly exists.
One thing is certain that part of the hyperbole is fueled by the known condition of coulrophobia, otherwise known as a fear of clowns, and one that I can identify with thanks partly to Tin Curry’s adaptation of Pennywise the clown from Stephen King’s It and a certain visit to Circus World in Florida when I was seven years old, but that’s another story.
The point is that, this fear is more than apparent for some and is the stuff of nightmares. It can take one small thing to ignite this fear and before you know it, there’s a pandemic on our hands.
Although, we’re not that extreme with this case, the man behind the clown mask is no fool and is able to tap into this agitation and subject these horrors for the sake of art. Without giving the game away, there is a further reveal towards the movies final act that subjects the audience to further marvel and questioning how deep the mythology behind Wrinkles the Clown will go.
Wrinkles the Clown offers up a brilliant insight into art and society and subjects one of our fears, questioning whether parents should project those trepidations on their children in order for them to conform.
Director Michael Beach Nichols handles the subject matter on a tightrope of interest and horror, where the viewer is both observer and participant, making this a must watch documentary.