Death of a Clown (2020) review of psychological German horror

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[Total: 46   Average: 1.6/5]

Death of a Clown is a 2020 German horror feature film directed by Rolf Höhne and starring Marius Ahrendt, Luise Schumann, Paul Oldenburg, Sandra Eckardt, Marco Klammer, Frank Schober and Frank Jacob. The film appears to be a remake or reimagining of Rolf Höhne’s Mask of Fear (2013).


German horror films are underrated when it comes to delivering a perfect package of fear, fright, disturbance and mayhem. Not many fall into the list of greats such as Schramm, Funny Games, Mark of the Devil, Nekromantik and of course, the original Nosferatu! I was hoping to add Death of a Clown to the must-sees on the German film landscape, however, unfortunately, my review has to be negative.

Beginning strong with an apparent kidnapping of a bound and blindfolded young woman in a filthy underground bunker, the film cuts to an asylum where another young lady is being interrogated by a steadfast investigator (Marius Ahrendt). Anna (Sandra Eckardt) has been missing for several days without a trace and the only connection that can be confirmed is the surviving psych-patient, Sydney (Luise Schumann) who escaped the clutches of her captor: a deranged killer who bridles himself with a crude clown mask.

It’s clear that Hagen’s (Marius Ahrendt) intent to find Anna is more than a typical police probe. There is undoubtedly a conflict of interest which doesn’t deter his harsh tactics for cracking Sydney to explain her experience with the distorted abductor.

What is not clear:

What are the murderer’s motives?

What is the clown’s obsession with Sydney?

Why does Sydney become violent?

And most importantly…who/what is the clown???

So, as I continued to watch and wait for my answers, Death of a Clown fell short and misguided. The kill scenes, although bloody and brutal, didn’t dissuade my quest for these resolutions which sadly never came to fruition.

Marius Ahrendt’s performance was noticeably strong through exasperated questioning of an almost mute Sydney. His frustration level is easily sensed from the start while the troubled patient remains almost catatonic. Those are the most intense scenes – playing a cat/mouse game through gruelling inquisitions.

Dark and slow-moving for seventy minutes, Death of a Clown concludes with more confusion than when it begins. What a shame.

Meredith Brown, MOVIES and MANIA

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