Movie Reviews

The Jester Movie Is Not A Joke, But Lacks Tricks or Thrills

At some point almost every day, comes the moment when I decide to see a particular horror film. With all my love for the genre, which is summed up in several thousand films I have seen to date, it is impossible to watch them all. I try not to miss the prominent films every year. Sometimes, I see a movie because of the actors. Sometimes, the name intrigues me (did someone say “Slotherhouse”?), and in other situations, it’s the poster. When I saw the poster for “The Jester” movie, I felt I should make time for it between all the more significant films of 2023.

Right, This poster could be more impressive. But something about it reminded me, and I assume you too, of horror characters we like to see. For me, it first reminded me of “The Black Phone,” one of the best horror movies of 2022. When I tried to research and saw the trailer – which I don’t always do, because trailers can ruin more than they contribute – I also detected a vibe of Art the Clown from the “Terrifier” movies. So even if it is imitation or inspiration (and I’m not sure this is the case), there can be a potential for guilty pleasure here. Is that so?

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The Mission: Make The Jester Movie Long

In 2016, a short film called “The Jester” was released. It was about a mysterious guy in a shocking orange suit and a scary mask who creatively murders people who are not enthusiastic about his tricks. The short film, divided into three chapters of about 10 minutes each, had a budget of $500. It took three days of shooting with four crew members but did well, with more than 30 million views in total.

Here is Chapter 2 of the short film, go get you into the right mood:

The full-feature movie was filmed in Virginia, USA, in October 2022, with a budget of $1.5 million. My expectations were low, not only because of the low IMDB rating and poor critic review. I know what we are dealing with. It is difficult to turn a short film into a full-length one, and plenty of examples exist. However, possible. Among the solid horror films that started as short films, you can find, to name a few, “Saw,” “Smile”‘, “The Babadook,” “Mama,” “Lights Out” and even “The Evil Dead,” which many people don’t know is based on a short film called “Within the Woods” from 1978.

When I saw the opening of “The Jester,” I thought it could surprisingly work. The opening scene was reasonable, and the opening credits presented the Jester in various artistic poses, like they were trying to introduce a new horror icon.

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The Good News: The Jester Is A Solid Villain

When I saw the opening of “The Jester,” I thought it could surprisingly work. The opening scene was reasonable, and the opening credits presented the Jester in various artistic poses, like they were trying to introduce a new horror icon.

But then the movie really started, and everything went wrong. In art, a Jester can be a pretty mysterious character. Think, for example, about the Jester painting by the Polish artist Jan Matejko, or the question of who the Jester is on Masked Singer’s sixth season (John Lyndon from “Sex Pistols”! AH-HA!). Other portraits of jesters and clowns are well known, and many people fear clowns, so the character may scare them.

The problem is that the jester himself can’t hold an entire feature film, especially when it seems like is been made in the wrong direction. Director Colin Krawchuk did try, and unlike other disappointing movies from the last years – yap, like that awful Winnie the Pooh horror movie – the result doesn’t look amateurish. However, when you see that the director has only made short films until now, you can wonder if the lack of experience is taking part here. 

Instead of making an anthology film with the Jester as the connecting link (like “All Hallows Eve,” the first full-length film featuring Art the Clown) or even a silly horror comedy about young people at a horror fair or weekend cabin being haunted by some sick dude with a suit (there are some scenes at a horror fair, but it’s very unnecessary), we get a pretty dull story. It stars Michael Sheffield as the Jester, just like in the short movies from 2016. 

The story is of two estranged sisters (Lelia Symington and Delaney White) who must come together to find a way to defeat the Jester. Matt Servitto plays John, their father, who the Jester killed at the movie’s beginning. The film follows the sisters as they try to survive the Jester’s attacks and uncover his true identity and motive. It doesn’t happen, and we get a lot of plot holes and inconsistent story.

What’s Up With All The Drama?

The dramatic parts do not work, and when most of the screen time in the film is related to the story of the sisters for no convincing reason, it is a problem. I would say that the best parts in this movie are when the villains kill “random” people – the people at the graveyard, police officers, and more – while the scenes with the protagonists just don’t work. Actually, you can easily cut something like 50-60 minutes of the film and stay with the killings, or even 3-4 “short films” with no connection, the result may be better.

The production of The Jester movie was led by director Colin Krawchuk, who also co-wrote the script with Michael Sheffield, the actor who played the Jester. Besides the Jester, the acting is far from impressive (and I’m being gentle), the dialogue is a bit mechanical, the film is full of plot holes and unexplained parts, and the technical aspects have their flaws. While some decent and creative shots exist, others need to be more convincing. None of these aspects is awful, but a few minuses don’t create a positive score. 

To summarize, “The Jester” movie is a messy attemp, that collapses almost every minute the villain is out of frame. It’s a movie that feels much longer than it is (about 80 minutes), and of course not scary either. Even though it’s watchable, despite all the problems, The Jester character may deserve a more successful movie. You know, like “Terrifier” or “The Black Phone.”

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