Warning: spoilers ahead.
Scary clowns are an easy market for a late-year blockbuster. Look at “IT Chapter Two” and “Joker” — both made tens of millions of dollars on their opening nights.
However, both of those movies have something that “Wrinkles” doesn’t — a scary clown character.
To be fair, “Wrinkles” is an indie-documentary film that never could’ve pulled in the audiences that “IT” and “Joker” did due to a smaller budget, limited theater showings and little clout.
And that’s the problem — no one cares about Wrinkles the Clown.
Wrinkles started as a minor social media sensation in 2015, when security camera-style footage of a little girl sleeping and a clown appearing from the drawer under her bed was uploaded on the internet. In the video, Wrinkles takes a toy and places it next to the girl. Then, he turns toward the camera and it abruptly shuts off, leaving viewers to ponder about the fate of the little girl.
After the video went viral, people in Naples, Florida (where Wrinkles originates) started making fliers and stickers featuring Wrinkles’ phone number (407-734-0254,. It works, by the way), which parents could call to scare their children.
Much of the documentary’s run-time is spent on parents threatening to call Wrinkles while their children scream and cry in the background. A psychologist then tells viewers about how threatening to call an evil clown on children is psychological abuse.
Along with a folklorist, the psychologist makes Wrinkles seem more important than he actually is.
Wrinkles is unique in that he is not a movie or TV character — he can be seen in the real world, and has been.
His fame coincided with the infamous clown sightings of 2016 and that’s pretty much his whole story.
The documentary, directed by Michael Beach Nichols, follows the “real” Wrinkles, an old man who lives in his van and eats microwaveable dinners every night. His face isn’t shown (at first, anyway), and he seems to be using a fake voice. He’s not happy about his newfound fame, and his whole method of getting into character seems distant and we never really know why he’s doing this.
Then the surprise comes — the old man that we believed was Wrinkles isn’t Wrinkles at all. It’s less of a surprise and more of an annoyance. We meet the “real” Wrinkles, who, again, doesn’t show his face and has a distorted voice. We find that the original Wrinkles video, and many that followed it, were faked to create more hype, undoing the development of most of the film thus far.
The documentary feels as though it was greenlit before a story was produced. There just isn’t enough about Wrinkles the Clown to create a feature-length film. And that’s OK.
Wrinkles would’ve been better as an uncovered modern tale — the mystery works in his favor.
Children are a big part of Wrinkles’ story. The ones who are scared of him and the ones who admire him build Wrinkles into more of a community mascot than neighborhood ghoul.
Wrinkles is still around and anyone can call the number. Whether or not he answers depends on the time of day — either way, one ise greeted with a voicemail message by him.
Call and decide for yourself if he’s actually scary, or just another clown fad.
Olivia Malick, UP editor