Serving as both writer and director, Robert Henderson, brings forward a psychological thriller with very subtle hints of horror, but presents the dark emotional ride on an intense mischievous design, with cinematic dramatic overtones that pit a wayward teen against a monster, in the form of actor J.T. Chinn, and never let’s go the terrorizing qualities of the entire movie.
This move begs the question what really continues as a horror movie, does a creepy clown and a room of toys in a grown man’s home equal a horror themed movie, perhaps; however if the clown removes the makeup and looks ordinary nowhere near freakish, and the toys aren’t disfigured then sorry not a horror movie, hence that is Kruel. The film contains many elements but none mix together, rather steering itself clear of the genre and stacks heavily into a psychological thriller, unsure of the reasoning with a possessive ownership and ideal family elimination for bloodbath massacre, and then wickedly crazy clown makeup, tosses it all away quickly. The rules on this one, simple once establishing a creepy factor, one needs to hold it and use against the human psyche, repeatedly exposing the screamers and terrorizing everyone with it, regardless of when in the movie. A disappointment to the fans especially those understanding the clown phobias people, and then to display in on the box art, only to wipe it all off, and start fresh, hence creating an emotional story, and no true horror. Chinn (Willie) brings all of the fear and whimsical delights with his early display freaking out a young boy, and then making a babysitter unsettled, Jo O’Hare (Kierney Nelson). Kiernary handles her role with class, and style, owning the leading with pure look of the wild rooted heroine, before she develops into a Ripley attitude of combative defenses. Jo’s character loses a child in her care and most including police feel and oversight accident of a child drowning, finding only a shoe, Jo insists Willie took the child, however the police accept the situation. Now this becomes a far-fetched acceptance, even from the family, the body never turns up, but is swept under the proverbial rug and forgotten about no mother or father would accept it so quickly. The character development for the most well structured for a Lifetime movie of the week, not for horror, and stretching the cozy confines of the psychological thriller, slipping to dark drama. This is not the fault of the cast each plays the roles effectively, the script slacks and adds no dread; the story tries for a regain momentum but stumbles. The only saving grace comes from a early moment of homage to Halloween (1978) with the girl yelling creep at the clown driving the road, hence slamming on brakes similar to Michael when nearly impossible to the name jerk.
In a dark drama, which this movie rests finally at, and likely confusion for the fans loyal to Midnight Releasing that desire the horror filled independent releases, but everyone is allowed to break boundaries and explore other genres and that likely occurs herein, this thriller delivers in the final minutes of the movie. The character development from Kiernary truly shows the arc of her character, from the beginning selfish to the end of self-sacrificing. The market for the film, aims to teenagers, even with slight breast exposure that again, misdirects itself, and a wanted and unwarranted scene. The acting and story find themselves in the nice and easy category, the moments existed for ratcheting the audience to a cliffhanger moments but breaking the tension with return trips to the unconcerned police pushes the temperament of the audience to a restless posturing.
The genre of this movie shifts every ten minutes, resting in the bin of thriller and dark drama, never achieving the level of horror, except on the box art and that grabs the attention of the fans, but warned what you see is not what you get. However if you’re starting out in the horror genre this might be the perfect place, not too scary, one jump scene and no true gore factor, just measured suspense, to a calming ending, perhaps.