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It's been a while since I proposed someone. But, I just rewatched this movie again, and both times I came to the conclusion he's pure evil. We'll see, I guess. Likely, not a lot of people we'll know who this guy is, but let's give it a go anyways. Oh, and I'll only be covering the scenes with him, so if there's jarring cuts, sorry. I'm not covering the whole movie.

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What is the Work?

The Clown at Midnight is a 1999 horror/slasher film that takes place in an opera house that was the setting of an unsolved murder seventeen years ago. Now, as a teacher and a group of student volunteers are working on the restoration and reopening, they are menaced by the same killer.

Who is He?

Mr. Caruthers is the hidden main antagonist of the film. He was the owner of the opera house and was madly obsessed with Lorraine Sedgewick, one of the singers. But, she rejected him because she was in love with her co-star Lorenzo Orsini.

What Has He Done?

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Lorraine Sedgewick was gonna marry her co-star Lorenzo Orsini, and Caruthers didn't like that. No. After a performance of Pagliacci, Caruthers dressed in Lorenzo's clown costume and used the tunnels to gain access into Lorraine's dressing room through her wardrobe. He popped out, dagger in hand and chased her. She managed to fend him off by breaking a bottle over his head, but the janitor had headphones in, so when Lorraine tried to scream for help, Caruthers pulled her back into the room and stabbed her multiple times with the dagger. Caruthers then presumably snuck back through the wardrobe.

Somehow, Lorenzo was the prime suspect for Lorraine's murder. Though it was rumored Lorenzo fled to Europe, Caruthers actually hid him within the tunnels of the opera house. Though an act of kindness, this was more likely Caruthers' way of ensuring that Lorenzo would look guilty and would never be able to tell anyone about his relationship with Lorraine.

Seventeen years later, a woman named Ellen Gibby buys the house and is working on reopening it. She enlists in the help of seven high school students, including Lorenzo and Lorraine's daughter Catherine, now known under the name, Kate Williams. The first day there, a lighting fixture nearly falls on and kills Ms. Gibby. Though, this is never confirmed to be Caruthers' doing. When Caruthers shows up to greet Ms. Gibby and the volunteers, he tells them of the murder and paints a different story, saying that Lorenzo killed Lorraine because he caught her cheating on him. That night, Caruthers is seen in the tunnels talking to Lorenzo, saying he'll take care of everything.

The next day, Ms. Gibby arrives first and sees Caruthers in the clown costume with his back to her. Thinking it's one of the students, she approaches him, but the clown reveals an axe and strikes her in the head.

The next to go was the bitch of the group, Ashley. After getting into a fight with her on and off boyfriend Taylor, she is left in Lorraine's dressing room alone. While sitting at the mirror and trying on some of the leftover jewelry, Caruthers emerges from the wardrobe and strangles her with a necklace. No one hears the commotion because of a boom box playing music, though Monica does kind of hear and goes to investigate. However, Caruthers has already dragged Ashley's body into the wardrobe, so Monica finds nothing.

Speaking of Monica...while wheeling a crate of clothes down to the basement, Caruthers shows up and frightens her. She thinks it's George at first, but quickly realizes it's not when the clown tries to attack her. Monica runs up to the stage area, where the clown proceeds to taunt her before disappearing behind a backdrop. Monica grabs a spear and stabs through the backdrop, supposedly getting the clown as he screams in pain. However, not really, as when Monica backs into another backdrop, a spear emerges from the back and out through her chest. As she dies, the clown comes out from behind the wall and smirks at her.

Somewhere in between all this, Caruthers chained the doors and cut the phone lines. Unable to find their teacher and friends, the students regroup on stage and attempt to use Ashley's phone to call for help. But, Ashley's body, now hanging from a rope, knocks Taylor down and a trap door activates under Marty, sending him into the basement. In a panicked state, Taylor and Cheryl decide to go up to the roof to yell for help, while Kate and George go down to get Marty.

Marty soon meets the clown and has a swordfight with him, but is beaten. The clown backs up Marty into a electric chair and locks him in it. As he's about to kill Marty with the sword, George and Kate interrupt him when they attempt to open the door. Instead of killing Marty with the sword, the clown cuts a cord and uses it to fry him, which also kills the lights in the process.

Taylor and Cheryl make it up to the roof and attempt to start a fire using old papers. However, as Cheryl is gathering the paper, the clown grabs Taylor and shuts the hatch. Taylor attempts to fight the clown, but is overpowered and thrown off the roof. He grabs a ledge and begs the clown to pull him up, saying he doesn't want to die. The clown appears to lend a hand, but when Taylor grabs it, it's revealed to be a fake hand, and he falls to his death.

Cheryl ran back to the auditorium where she hid under the seats. The clown looks around for her and doesn't find her. But when she comes out from hiding thinking he's gone, the clown appears behind her and decapitates her with a sword.

Kate makes her way back to the stage where Caruthers shines a light on her, so she's unable to see his face. Just then, Lorenzo dressed in the clown costume comes out from the stage to try and warn her, but she thinks it's the killer clown and climbs up to the catwalk. Caruthers appears on the other side of the catwalk and attempts to get Kate to come to him, saying Lorenzo was behind it all. Lorenzo explains to Kate that Caruthers is the true culprit and says that being hidden in the opera house was more like being a prisoner. In an act of anger and revenge, Lorenzo charges at Caruthers, who throws him off the catwalk to his death. Afterwards, Caruthers claims that things didn't work out between Lorraine and him, but it could work with Kate. However, Kate rejects him and he knocks her out.

Caruthers: Oh, Kate. The minute I saw you, I knew fate had given me a second chance.

Kate: What?
Caruthers: Things didn't work out between me and your mother, but they could be different now, with you and me.
Kate: Stay away from me!
Caruthers: How like her you are. So beautiful. So foolish.

~ Caruthers before knocking out Kate.

When Kate comes to, she is dressed like the leading lady on-stage, tied to a plastic tree. All the corpses of her friends are in the audience. Caruthers is dressed like the clown. When Kate calls him a monster, Caruthers tries to justify himself, explaining that he killed Lorraine because she chose Lorenzo over him. In a reenactment of Pagliacci, George shows up in another clown costume and fights with Caruthers. Caruthers overpowers him and throws him into wall, knocking him out. Afterwards, he grabs the dagger and attempts to get Kate to sing. However, she doesn't and he slaps her for missing her cue. She yells at him to just kill her and when he tries to stab her, she escapes her binds and crawls away. Caruthers grabs her, but she stabs him in the eye with a screwdriver. As he's distracted with the pain, Kate runs to the trap door levers and pulls one, sending Caruthers down into the basement, where he is impaled on an assortment of weapons and dies.

  • Body count: 8

Mitigating Factors/Redeeming Qualities

Here's where things get tricky.

Aww..now, is that fair? But then, is it fair for a man to be denied the one thing he desired beyond life? I could've given her everything...but she chose him instead. Why is it that women who become artists make such bad choices?
~ Caruthers explaining why he killed Lorraine.
  • Love - Was Caruthers love for Lorraine, legit? From what I've seen, it seems more like perverse obsession. He says she was beautiful and in the quote, notice how he uses the word "desired" instead of loved.
  • Mentally Ill - Caruthers is definitely off his rocker, but I think he has enough moral agency to realize what he's doing is wrong. I mean, he did attempt to pin the crimes on Lorenzo. Also, he has weird moments where he seems crazy, but also moments where he seems perfectly sane. So, I don't know here.
  • Tragic - Hah! Nope. Just because a woman doesn't return your affections, doesn't give you the right to kill her and frame her lover.
  • Comedic Relief - No. While some of the stuff he does, can be seen as comedic by the audience, he is taken seriously in the movie.
  • Off-screen Villainy - Everything he does is on-screen. With exception to keeping Lorenzo in the opera house. We don't know exactly how that went down.
  • Speaking of the elephant in the room - Hiding Lorenzo in the opera house. You'd be forgiven if you misconstrued this as an act of kindness. But, I'll let Lorenzo sum it up here, why it's not.
My good friend. What a friend you are. I thought you were helping me, hiding me. All this time, I have been a prisoner in this theater because of you. You destroyed my love, my career, my life. You killed me a long time ago. Now it's time for you to die.
~ Lorenzo Orisini's last words.
    • Considering that Caruthers tries to frame Lorenzo a second time and even callously throws Lorenzo to his death. It's safe to say, he didn't care about him at all.

Heinous Standards

He sets the standards. The only other antagonist is Ashley, however while she's an ice queen, she doesn't do anything outside of being antagonistic towards Kate, and she herself gets killed by Caruthers. So, there's no problem with standards.

As for the standards for a horror/slasher film, I think he passes it, as he's not really tragic, nor enigmatic. Also, he's clearly sadistic as he enjoys toying with his victims and even smiles before and after killing them.

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Verdict

I'll let you decide.

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