So remember how I praised 'Dahmer' in my last review? It did a great job of working on the audience psychologically by getting us into Jefferey Dahmer's head. It was dark, atmospheric, disturbing, suspenseful, and showed us Dahmer the person a little more than Dahmer the psychopath. Something like 'Gacy', on the other hand, is an example of one of the films I mentioned that drags the factoids across your eye from start to finish and then you think to yourself "I could have seen a much better documentary about this".
We kick things off here by seeing Gacy as a child on a fishing trip in 1953 with his abusive father (Adam Baldwin) to see a very brief example of the abuse he suffered as a kid. Fast-forward to 1976, and we hit the ground running so quickly that we almost trip over ourselves. Gacy and the family are constantly interrupted by neighbours who complain about the foul stench coming from his crawlspace. So there's really no lead-up to anything at all, and it all takes place a little more near the end of everything associated with the Gacy murders. The interesting thing about it, however, is that as famous as Gacy was as Pogo the Clown; an image even used for the film's poster, there's basically NO Pogo going on in this, save for a few home videos and a couple of slight nods to it.
I realize how that must sound, considering the film is about the man and not the clown, but I have to say I'm a little surprised at how little of it there actually was. And my God, when you see him in the clown makeup for the first time, it's actually kind of hilarious when it's supposed to be creepy. He's a little more reminiscent of the intoxicated clown from 'Uncle Buck', and it's all made even funnier when you realize Gacy is played by Mark Holton; someone we know a little bit more from comedies, but is above all else, Francis from 'Pee-Wee's Big Adventure'. So just think of Gacy saying something like "I know you are, but what am I?" and it's very hard to take him seriously here.
As far as the rest of the film goes, it's pretty much a Hollywood adaptation of what we know, and like 'Dahmer', it changes things up a little bit to make it a work of fiction, but everything you need to know about Gacy is still there. Considering this, it's much easier for me to recommend a few documentaries on the actual case much, much higher. I could say the same thing about 'Dahmer', I suppose, but at the very least, 'Dahmer' provided a good story that one could latch onto out of interest in the case. 'Gacy', in a way, moves too damn fast. It covers bare basics, and perhaps what stood out most as a difference was the quality in acting. 'Gacy' feels a little more like a college play.
One big reason for these comparisons to 'Dahmer' is the fact that they come from the same source of DEJ Productions. They pretty well both open with the same, or at least very similar text as well, stating in so many words that "the following is an act of fiction based on real events". So, as with 'Dahmer', I'll give it credit for that, at the very least. But the fact of the matter is, that's just not enough to save it. This wasn't anything truly psychological (although it tried at several points) so much as it's just a movie about a killer who we all know is doing the killing as he hides in plain sight. So my basic conclusion is, quite honestly, that there's extremely basic thriller entertainment value to this one, and just about every doc I've seen about the case overshadows this so heavily that it might as well not eve be there.