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Amusement (DVD)

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Genre: Horror / Suitable for 18 years and over / Director: John Simpson / Actors: Tad Hilgenbrinck, Keir O'Donnell, Laura Breckenridge, Jessica Lucas, Katheryn Winnick ... / DVD released 2009-03-23 at Entertainment in Video / Features of the DVD: PAL

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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

    5 Reviews
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      09.02.2013 10:02
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      Entertaining, but otherwise rubbish

      RELEASED: 2008, Cert. 18

      RUNNING TIME: Approx. 85 mins

      DIRECTOR: John Simpson

      PRODUCERS: Neal Edelstein & Mike Macari

      SCREENPLAY: Jake Wade Wall

      MUSIC: Marco Beltrami

      MAIN CAST:-

      Katheryn Winnick as Tabitha
      Jessica Lucas as Lisa
      Laura Breckenridge as Shelby
      Keir O'Donnell as 'The Laugh'
      Tad Hilgenbrink as Rob

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      FILM ONLY REVIEW

      As the opening credits roll, flashes of written psychiatric reports with a voice-over describing the mental instability of a schoolboy, are shown on the screen.

      The scene then shifts to young couple Rob and Shelby driving along a road in traffic. Shelby is anxious because Rob is driving too fast, and she begs him to slow down. He explains he is trying to start a convoy with a truck and a car. When the truck and car pull into a filling station, Rob follows and whilst there, the surly truck driver informs him and the driver of the other car that they ought to take a different route due to bad traffic jams on the main road.

      Unsettled by the trucker's attitude and making awkward conversation with the friendly, but very nervous-seeming driver of the other car, Rob decides to follow the truck along a lonely, quiet route....with disastrous results after a girl leaps from the back of the truck, crashing into Rob's car window.

      Rob attempts to chase the truck but eventually loses it, and when he heads back to return to Shelby and the injured girl, he finds they have vanished.

      Meanwhile, and elsewhere but nearby, Tabitha goes to stay at her aunt's house to look after her two nephews, and becomes very nervous of a life-sized toy clown figure in one of the bedrooms....and, raging outside, is the thunderstorm from hell which creates power surges that make the lights in the house flicker and malfunction.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      The basis of Amusement is split into three parts, and early on, the storyline is set around a very disturbed man who holds a continuing grudge against three girls who tormented him during his schooldays. The crux of the story is that he, many years later and in adulthood, seeks out these three girls (who obviously are Tabitha, Lisa and Shelby) with the intention of exacting brutal revenge.

      Amusement opens quite well, and for at least the first 30 or so minutes, is quite intriguing. For me, the most gripping part was the section where Tabitha is looking after her nephews, yet becomes increasingly worried and scared by the life-sized clown figure perched on a rocking chair in a spare room full of strange toys. During that part of the film, the tension runs high and Katheryn Winnick's acting is quite commendable, as she portrays the growing unease of a normally very 'together' and sensible young woman whose fear throws her off balance.

      From the point where Tabitha's story shifts into something else, I began to get a bit muddled, then as the film progresses, it gets extremely over the top, containing some quite nasty violence. I found myself confusing the female characters....not them as people, because each looks very different to the others, but how they connected up with one another, and I suppose, quite frankly exactly what was going on. I wasn't sure what, if anything, was supposed to be set in the present time or flashbacks to the past.

      There is fairly brief scene in Amusement where Tabitha has to speak to a counsellor, and I found this decidedly bizarre, as the actress who played the part of the counsellor was indeed profoundly weird....so weird that it left me wondering if such was deliberate, but if so, then why?

      The second half of Amusement is scrappy, bitty, and doesn't really hang together all that well. There are lots of loose ends left hanging in that it appears as if connecting scenes which would explain certain things away were omitted, and there isn't enough background given to throw light on how various people turned up in a certain place, so I was left with a big question mark hanging over my head as to how they came to be there.

      For the most part, the acting in Amusement is merely borderline acceptable, with Katheryn Winnick stealing the show for me. The other cast members seemed as if they were tumbling through their lines almost as if reading from autocue, and my awareness kept shifting away from what was going on, to imagining the film crew standing around, with the director yelling "cut!!!" every few minutes, and everybody stopping for coffee breaks or whatever. This impression gave the film a very disjointed and amateurish feel.

      The music to Amusement is truly in your face, loud, overbearing and far too over-dramatised, it consisting of intense orchestral violins and pounding percussion. I think a quieter, sinister-sounding score would have been much more appropriate for hiking up the chill-factor levels. This music was so distracting that, together with the disjointed aspects of the storyline, resulted in me experiencing a kind of sensory overload whilst watching.

      The antics and demeanour of killer 'The Laugh' are over the top to the point of absurdity, although Keir O'Donnell did pull some interesting expressions on his face from time to time as he tormented and harassed his victims. I suppose the main crux of Amusement is the levels that a very seriously disturbed young man will go to in order to pay his childhood tormentors back for their 'sins', but such goes so far over the top, that it becomes ridiculous.

      It is a pity that Amusement fell flat on its face after the rather good opening, as with a different format and an injection of a chilling subtleness rather than pulling all the stops out in the area of grossness, it could actually have turned into quite a good film. As it stands, it almost becomes laughable rather than scary, as it loses its sense of realism when it goes down 'Bonkers Boulevard'.

      It is tempting to suggest that Amusement perhaps was intended to be just that.....amusing....but I honestly don't think that was what the director meant to convey....he managed it though, probably by accident.

      All in all, Amusement is a silly, very over the top and in parts confusing film that needs a huge tidy up, and for the horror elements to be presented in a far more laid-back, sinister and chilling way. The music needs to be shoved far into the background, and some research should have been carried out prior to filming, into how a serial killer's mind really works. Amusement quickly evolves into something laughably disappointing, after a reasonably good start.

      However, there is one thing I can say in its favour, and that is Amusement, even with all its glaring faults, isn't boring and I easily managed to stay focused from start to finish, but I definitely wouldn't want to see it again. It is probably a film that most people, if they watched it, would end up wishing they'd given it a miss, but it may contain a moderately acceptable, albeit tacky, entertainment value for some. Anybody deciding to give Amusement a spin should prepare themselves to be simultaneously entertained, confused, bewildered, irritated and amused.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      At the time of writing, Amusement can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-

      New: from £1.56 to £9.99
      Used: from £1.55 to £2.99

      Some items on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn't apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.

      Thanks for reading!

      ~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~

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        03.09.2009 23:09
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        Mind-numbingly dull - don't bother

        Three girls, Shelby, Tabitha and Lisa, are being hunted by a madman. First Shelby is waylaid by a truck-driving girl snatcher, then Tabitha is chased by a clown in her aunt and uncle's home, and finally Lisa is lured into a strange mansion looking for a friend. They were all friends in high school, but have since gone their own ways...until they find themselves together in an old house. But can they work out who it is that is chasing them and what it is they have done to deserve such a punishment? Or are they doomed to die at the hands of this madman?

        Like many horrors, acting is not the strongpoint of this film. The three girls, played by Laura Breckenridge (Shelby), Katheryn Winnick (Tabitha) and Jessica Lucas (Lisa), are virtually indistinguishable, only differentiated by different hair and skin colours. Katheryn Winnick arguably has the greatest role in that she has the most screen time. As an actress, she did the job, no more, no less, and pretty much the same can be said for the other two. It doesn't really matter though because we know from the start that they are either going to die or be horribly maimed, so no amount of acting is likely to persuade the viewer to root for them.

        The director, John Simpson, had a really good opportunity to make the film more appealing by creating a really nasty, evil, creepy madman. What he came up with - in the form of actor Keir O'Donnell - is, frankly, pathetic. First of all, his reasons for behaving as he does aren't really convincing. It's the sort of thing that happens to most people, without them losing the plot. Secondly, he just doesn't look the part. He looks like a naughty sixth former who needs a good slap around the legs. Seeing him on screen made me want to laugh more than anything else - never a good move unless you're wanting to create a comedy.

        There are some promising moments in the film. The girls' stories are told separately and I thought the first one looked interesting. Shelby and her boyfriend are on a road trip when they run into a truck driver, who turns out not to be the real problem. The story isn't original, but it was done reasonably well and I settled down in the hope of something promising. The second story, involving Tabitha, is also okay - or at least the initial promise of her being chased to her potential death by a clown appealed to me - I've always found clowns creepy. Again though, it is a typical girl alone in the house (except for the children she is babysitting) story that has been done so many times. However, by the time Lisa's story comes along, I had really began to lose interest. The characters were just too diluted I think. Just as one character had begun to look interesting, we skipped onto the next one.

        There also seem to be a huge number of plot holes. The most important one is that I found the madman's reasons for chasing the girls to be completely unconvincing. It just didn't make sense; nor did he seem to be intelligent enough to have put such an amazing scheme together. Then I couldn't understand how the three girls all came to be in the same place and what happened to their boyfriends, friends etc. Everything felt very abrupt, with no smoothing of the path between the threads of the story so that it made sense. And there was certainly nothing in it that felt original - it was a veritable hotch-potch of a number of slasher/horror films.

        There is, of course, a fair amount of violence to merit the 18 rating. I found it all very standard slasher film violence - the cutting open of bodies, massive bladed saw in the eyes - and it is done reasonably well. I didn't find it at all frightening, but then I watch a lot of this type of film - it definitely isn't suitable for children. The atmosphere is also quite creepy, particularly if, like me, you find clowns frightening. Unfortunately, it wasn't creepy enough to make up for the rubbish storyline, and I was left feeling incredibly flat.

        There are no extras whatsoever with the DVD that I have. Probably just as well, because I don't think I would have bothered watching them anyway.

        This is the latest in a long line of rubbish horror films that have come out of Hollywood and I'm beginning to despair. I suspect I've been desensitised by the amount of horror I watch, which I should probably find worrying, but I don't have high expectations - I just want to be entertained by something remotely original. Unfortunately, this was so far off that I could barely bring myself to write this review. Watch it if you want to...but at your peril. Two stars out of five (and that's only because I didn't turn it off - I would have done had it been any longer).

        The DVD is available from play.com for £6.99.

        Classification: 18

        Running time: 85 minutes

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          03.09.2009 16:16
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          A decent horror movie.

          ==BACKGROUND INFORMATION==


          USA made horror movie "Amusement" was released in the United Kingdom on 23rd of March, 2009. This movie was directed by talented Director and script-writer John Simpson. Mr. Simpson rose to fame and gained popularity for his 2004 psychological thriller movie Freeze frame. Famous British comedian and Writer Lee Evans played the title role in this movie.


          His second feature film Amusement revolves around a mentally disturbed man, who suffers from serious childhood mental trauma. He tries to take revenge and hunts his childhood friends. This movie has an interesting plot and some surprising twists.


          ==MAIN CHARACTERS==


          * Katheryn Winnick plays the role of Tabitha (One of the three childhood best-friends, she comes to her Aunt's house to visit her.)
          * Laura Breckenridge plays the role of Shelby (Friend of Tabitha and Lisa, she is coming back to home with her boyfriend after having a boring weekend)
          * Jessica Lucas plays the role of Lisa (She stays with her roommate Cat in a flat)
          * Keir O'Donnell plays the role of The Laugh (A mentally unstable young man, he chases these girls and causes severe problems in their lives.)

          ==PLOT OUTLINE==


          This movie is divided into four parts. First three parts describe how these three childhood best friends (Tabitha, Shelby and Lisa) being chased by a mysterious man and how he causes serious trouble to them.


          This movie opens with Shelby and her boyfriend; they are driving back to home after a bad weekend outside. Suddenly they meet with two strangers in a roadside gas station. Then bizarre things starts happening and Shelby finds herself in deep danger. In second part, Tabitha comes to her aunt's house to visit. Then she finds out that, her aunt went outside and left the kids (two boys) alone. She wonders about the babysitter. Later a stranger knocks on the door and Tabitha gets into serious trouble. In third part, Lisa lives with her roommate Cat. All of a sudden, Cat disappears and Lisa tries her best to find Cat. Later, Lisa goes to an old hotel and suspects that her friend Cat might be inside. Lisa tries to break in and once again all the bizarre things starts happening.


          So this movie tells the audience how these friends come to a strange old mansion. It also tells us who chases them all the time and what is his motive. Will Tabitha able to save her friends and discover the dirty conspiracy behind all of their recent problems. To find out all these answers you need to watch this movie.

          ==MY PERSONAL THOUGHT==


          Amusement is a very decent horror movie with some gripping and very interesting twists in the storyline. Director John Simpson uses all the right elements(Three beautiful girls, one creepy villain and some serious thrilling moments) to make this movie interesting and enjoyable. But I am afraid, It does not work well this time.


          I really like the first hour of this movie. Three unique stories describe how these three girls get into trouble. Each story lasts for 10-15 minutes and all of them are highly interesting. Each story has a unique style and very well presented. It shows the sequences of their lives (three girls) very accurately and concisely. So the audiences never feel bored.


          I really enjoyed the part with the clown, when Tabitha goes to her Aunt's place to visit her. This is the best part of this movie. This mini-story is really well executed and and very attention-grabbing. That sick man "The Laugh" disguises as a life-size clown and tries to scare Tabitha.


          But in later part, when Director starts adding all these different parts and try to make a connection between them, then it starts getting very weird. Then I find lots of plot holes. Some of the scenes do not make sense at all. It looks like; director already assumes that the general audience already know the script so if he misses some scenes or sequences still we can understand it. But in reality, it just feels really awkward. Some of the scenes or part of stories may seem familiar to you. Because all these traditional twists and sequences has already been used in some other recent horror movies.


          Mr. Simpson was widely praised for his first full length psychological thriller film Freeze Frame. He wrote the script and directed this movie. This movie has a very unique and compact storyline and I really enjoyed it. Especially, he presented famous comedian Lee Evans in a very serious and thoughtful role.


          I was expecting a better effort from Mr. Simpson in this movie. But this has a very weak second half and actually ruins the excellent and gripping first part. This movie was slated to be released on January, 2008. Due to some problems the release date changed quite a few times and later it was released direct-to-DVD version.


          This movie has some serious disturbing scenes. Yes, I know usually horror movies have some disturbing and chilling scenes, but this one just exceeds the limit. Those scenes are so violent, explicit and horrific that MPAA rated this movie nc-17 which means, people under 17 needs proper permission (can't watch this alone) to watch this movie.


          ==CHARACTER ANALYSIS==


          The mysterious man, who chases those three girls, has a troubled childhood. This character is known as '''"The Laugh"'''. When he was a boy he knew all these girls and went to same elementary school. He has a very weird and sick mentality and those girls were afraid of him. He has a very unique and distinctive laugh, and it scares the people. This troubled boy went to a mental hospital but doctors could not cure his problems. Later he starts chasing all those school mates and causes serious problems in their life.


          This mysterious man lives alone and suffers from inferiority complex. He always thinks that people does not like him, does not care for him or his feelings. So he always does some weird and creepy stuff to get other notice his existence. But, in reality, he causes deep problems in their lives. He makes their lives like a living hell. But he takes it as a fun and enjoys torturing them. This sick and perverted action amuses that sick man (The Laugh). I think the title of this movie also refers to this.


          On the other hand, these three girls (Shelby, Lisa and Tabitha) are best friends and according to Tabitha, they are simply inseparable. '''Tabitha''' is curious and sarcastic by nature and really cares for her friends and families. When she went to her aunt's place, she was also surprised to find out that there was no babysitter for those young kids. But, she did not complain about it, instead she takes care of the kids. She is really caring, helpful and kind by nature. She values the friendship and constantly tries her best to save her friends from that sick man. Director focuses on the character of Tabitha really well and presented on screen beautifully. Canadian born talented actress Katheryn Winnick plays the character of Tabitha. She acted in numerous TV serials and also in some studio feature films. She did a brilliant job in this movie. Her honest facial expression, really flexible body movements and immaculate delivery of dialogues makes the character of Tabitha really enjoyable and interesting.


          ==THINGS THAT PLEASED ME==


          * Some surprising twists in storyline.
          * Brilliant characterization of "Tabitha".
          * Good cinematography.
          * Some beautiful scenarios.


          ==INCONVENIENCES==


          ******* ***
          There are some serious plot-holes in second half of the movie. Especially, how Tabitha gets into a lonely mansion after police gets hold of her is really unclear. The storyline does not clear this particular situation.


          ******* ***
          New Zealand born actress Rena Owen played the character of on-site trauma counsellor in this movie. I found this character absolutely pointless and plain weird. She comes to a lonely mansion to help the state police by interrogating Tabitha about those horrible incidents. But, why she does not notice any police or proper authority in this mansion? Also why she does not take any notice about the security matter of Tabitha? I just find this character really weak and completely unnecessary.


          ******* ***
          There are some needless strong violence, unnecessary graphic torture scenes and bloody gore scenes in this movie. This is really not recommended for younger generation. I also find some scenes very disturbing and stressful.


          ******* ***
          Some of the scenes and sequences in this movie does not seem connected to each other.


          ******* ***
          The second half of this movie is really boring. Especially, director John Simpson failed to connect all the stories with the final half of this movie properly. So it looks fairly odd and confusing.


          ******* ***

          ==VIEWERS RECEPTION==

          Though this movie has an interesting plot, but there are so many plot holes in the second part, it does not look right at all. This movie gained generally mixed to negative responses from both movie critics and also viewers. Currently this movie has a 5.1/10 rating in IMDB voted by almost 2500 viewers.


          '''Movie Website:''' http://www.amusementmovie.com/
          '''Movie Trailer''' : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fmeGt-SXsg
          '''IMDB rating:''' http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0476958/


          ==FINAL THOUGHT AND RECOMMENDATION==


          I only watched this movie because of John Simpson. I really liked his first feature film, a gripping psychological thriller named Freeze Frame. But, this movie is truly disappointing. Although there are some really engaging scenes and surprising twists in the story-line but still it's not that satisfactory. I would never recommend you to buy the DVD of this movie; but you can rent the DVD from any rental store or wait to see it on TV channels. You can buy this movie from amazon.uk from only £6.98 with super saver free delivery.


          Thank you very much for reading my review.


          ©Gladiator007


          '''***This is a movie only review and also posted on CIAO and Dooyoo under same user name***'''

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            02.06.2009 08:07
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            Three girls suffer very different experiences that are somehow linked

            A review of just the film, Amusement was produced in 2008 and released directly to DVD in region 2 in March 2009.

            A teenaged girl named Shelby is travelling home for the weekend in her boyfriend's car. To help the journey pass more quickly, they join an informal 'convoy' and tag along with a truck and another car along the darkened highways. But when they stop for gas, Shelby spots something in the back of the truck that leads her to believe the truck driver can't be trusted.

            When Tabitha goes over to her aunt's house to take over from the babysitter, she is shocked to find that the girl has abandoned the two young boys and left them alone in the house. As night falls, Tabitha puts the boys to bed and settles down in the guest bedroom, which also doubles as storage for her aunt's collection of clown dolls. Tabitha is particularly perturbed by a life-sized clown that sits in a rocking-chair in the corner of the room - and she'd have good reason.

            Lisa is out in a bar for the night with her room mate, who hooks up with a guy and goes back to his hotel. When Lisa's friend fails to return, she persuades her boyfriend to come to the hotel with her and see what has happened to the girl. The hotel turns out to be an extremely old, sprawling gothic mansion, and the creepy guy at the door convinces Lisa that something is wrong, prompting her to send her boyfriend in alone.

            Three seemingly unconnected experiences that are actually linked by the traumas of childhood - but the danger doesn't just lurk in the past......

            Sometimes a film leaves an extremely positive impression, and at others, quite the opposite happens. Occasionally, a film sits distinctly between the two, containing imaginative, creative elements that make you love it, only to be offset by some ridiculous, ill-conceived mistakes that can result only in hatred. Amusement is such a film.

            Directed by John Simpson (who demonstrated an eye for weird things with the Lee Evans thriller Freeze Frame), Amusement comprises two distinct methods of storytelling. The larger part of the film features three distinct segments, played out rather like individual stories in the way that Tales from the Crypt used to work. The rest of the film operates on a more traditional, real-time basis and the two styles overlap only occasionally, and just enough to demonstrate that they are actually all linked by one central idea. The segmented story telling is something I find very appealing and here it initially works very well. The three girls' stories and fast-paced and intriguingly plotted in such a way that the audience is soon very curious as to what is going to happen. Things that initially appear to be very predictable turn out to be quite the opposite and Jake Wade Wall's writing yields more than a few surprises. The three stories are reasonably short and given the link introduced between stories two and three, the audience might superficially be left wanting more.

            The converse, sadly, is that none of the three stories is particularly well considered, particularly stories one and three that rely on a level of stupidity that is bordering on being nauseating. Whilst the genre relies on a certain level of naivety, the ordeal into which Shelby is propelled seems so entirely ridiculous that it's very difficult to take it seriously. Similarly, Lisa's ordeal in story three quickly becomes rather irritating as the plot dives off a cliff into a seething sea of retarded decision-making - and that's all before the final segment kicks in, which really seems to push the boundaries of what an audience will accept as plausible peril. It's a problem that we've seen from Jake Wade Wall before. Having delivered the screenplays for both The Hitcher and When A Stranger Calls remakes, Wall seems to have a serious problem persuading the audience to believe in a victim's ordeal, largely because he seems content to believe that teenaged girls are so stupid they deserve everything they get.

            These problems with the plot are a huge disappointment given only that the film otherwise yields some stuff that's really worth seeing. The creepy clown in story two, for example, is as creepy as creepy can be and the segment is perfectly plotted, building the tension up into a telephone revelation that wouldn't have been out of place in the aforementioned Stranger Calls movie. The clown looks really, really scary and in what is probably the most traditional of the three stories, Wall keeps it simple and scary. That's not to say that the other two stories are without appeal. The first one is daft but has a credible twist (although keen viewers will quickly see it coming). The third one is probably the most atmospheric of the three and, stupid decisions aside, is probably the weirdest, the most gruesome, and definitely the least predictable.

            The girls are pretty much carbon copies of one another, all looking like a GHD model and demonstrating the same acting capability. The Laugh (to explain who he is would be a spoiler) is cast very badly in the shape of Keir O'Donnell who doesn't have a clue, but he's not as bad as Rena Owen's psychiatrist who is truly dreadful. Tad Hilgenbrink (what a name) is the film's only visual saving grace, given only that he is unquestionably cute but still wooden (and sadly not in the biblical sense).

            The fact is, however, that it all really goes ass up in the final section where any style or consideration goes out of the window. Wall makes the tiresome decision to try and cobble together elements of every popular horror film from the last three years into an apparently crafty conclusion and doesn't pull it off. Having failed to develop any kind of empathy in the three girls seen in the individual stories, it's no real surprise that the last act really just hammers a nail in the already apathetic coffin the audience finds itself lying in. Curiously for a direct DVD release, Amusement has a reasonably expensive feel to it. Filming in the gothic hotel and the final section works very well and it doesn't feel like budget was the main problem here. The production values are very mainstream and, had the plot held itself together more satisfyingly, this would almost certainly have made a good return at the cinema. In spite of the 18 certification (not really deserved here) the film would still appeal to a younger, teenaged and (generally) less demanding audience.

            So, it's one star for the clown and one star for everything else.

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              23.05.2009 13:31
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              The film didnt' really know where it was going, a truly poor effort. Skip it.

              I must admit I do enjoy horror movies and when my girlfriend brought this home the other evening I must admit I was pleased. Lights out, and salted popcorn ready, we fired it up.

              I'll admit that the plot wasn't bad but everything else was. John Simpson as the director didn't really have any originality. For a movie made in 2009 with what seemed a pretty big budget you would expect a more solid 'horror'. The sets/locations chosen were very good and were genuinely scary at times. You had the classic good looking lead characters that is always appreciated.

              The movie did start well. I won't ruin the movies plot as it is a recent film but everything about it failed apart from 'one story' which did deliver. If you are scared of clowns (think I.T/Pennywise) then this might be worth watching. You'll understand too why the movie is called 'amusement'. The actors did an OK job apart from one, which I think had the most crucial role. I think a more experience individual would have pulled it off and because they didn't once you got 'into' the movie it turned into a comedy.

              I was waiting for it to finish and it just seemed to drag, that says a lot for a film that is around ninety minutes long. Also, think slasher, cheap scares, more than actual violence and gore. I won't say anymore other than you won't miss out if you don't watch it. I wouldn't want to waste your time so I won't recommend it.

              2 out of 5

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