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Film / Amusement

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Amusement is a 2008 American horror film directed by John Simpson and starring Katheryn Winnick, Laura Breckenridge and Jessica Lucas. The film was stuck on The Shelf of Movie Languishment for quite some time before going direct-to-video in January 2009. It was the last film distributed by Picturehouse Films before their revival in 2013.

Three women are faced with a psychopath from their childhood with a penchant for sadism and twisted humour.


Tropes presented by this film:

  • Absurdly Ineffective Barricade: Tabitha uses one in the form of a cupboard that she puts on a front of a door. The Laugh effortlessly pushes out the drawers from behind and climbs straight through.
  • All According to Plan: For a while, it seemed that The Laugh had every move planned out to completely trap Tabitha. Then the truck stalled.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Since the trucker isn’t the villain, why did he try to run over Shelby’s boyfriend when he had literally no reason to do so?
  • Ascended Meme: The Tabitha segment of the movie is literally based on a creepypasta.
  • Ax-Crazy: The Laugh. Although while being a sadist and psychotic Serial Killer he's quite intelligent and manipulative.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: The Laugh abused a rat as a kid, it's pretty clear he's the bad guy.
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  • Big Bad: The Laugh, a sick invidual who is after the three women who he knew from his childhood.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Tabitha defeats The Laugh and survives, but The Laugh killed several people, including Shelby and Lisa, and Tabitha is traumatized by the experience.
  • Bond One-Liner: Said by Tabitha after she stabs The Laugh in the face with one of his weapons.
    "Now that was funny!"
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: Lisa's phone isn't but how she uses it is. She could have used it to call the cops but that would ruin the plot.
  • Crazy-Prepared: The Laugh seems prepared for everything the girls might do to escape and has a countermeasure in place to prevent it. He also has failsafes such as keeping a booby-trapped Victrola in the hotel to kill nosy visitors.
  • Creepy Basement: The one in The Laugh's cabin is so creepy and so unreasonably big, many fans mistook it for Chamber of Secrets.
  • Creepy Child: The Laugh, as a child, thought that gutting animals was a funny thing to do. He puts a rat into a torture rack, slices open its stomach, and stretches it open with hooks and asks "is it funny?".
  • Creepy Doll: Subverted by having the doll actually be The Laugh sitting very, very still.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The Laugh stitches people into beds and leaves them for death. And he later does the same thing to Tabitha's friends or so it seemed at first.
  • Death Trap: Of the "closing walls" kind.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The reason why The Laugh targets all those girls for the simple and petty reason that back at school they rightfully found his torture rack disgusting.
  • The Doll Episode: Tabitha's Babysitter plot in Act 2 has her being surrounded and creeped out by clown dolls.
  • Evil Laugh: The film's calling card, so much so that the villain is credited as "The Laugh". The laugh is pushed by the story itself to be the killer's most distinguishing trait.
  • Eye Scream:
    • Lisa's boyfriend Dan is killed this way when the Laugh has his "metal scope victrola" shoot a dart into his eye from the phonograph horn. Because it can.
    • Happens when Tabitha stabs the Laugh in the face with his own weapon.
  • Final Girl: Out of three girls that the Laugh is targeting, Tabitha is the one to survive and defeat the villain.
  • Flat Character: Shelby's boyfriend, whose only defining character trait is a strong desire to be in a convoy while driving.
  • For the Evulz: The Laugh finds mutilation and murder a funny thing to do. His whole plan revolves around being a sadistic asshole for the sole reason that it's funny to him.
  • Hell Hotel: The Laugh owns that hasn't been used for years as evident by all the dust and upturned chairs. Whether or not it's connected to the cabin via the dungeon of a basement is unclear.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Very poorly too! The Laugh pretends to be a clown doll in the guest bedroom... despite being a life-size "doll" and the only scary looking one out of them all. It still works.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Laugh gets killed by his own weapon, while looking through his peephole to taunt Tabitha no less.
  • Idiot Ball: Everyone in this film has one of their own, and they never let go of it. See Too Dumb to Live.
  • Instrument of Murder: The Laugh kills Rob using a metal scope Victrola that fires a blade out of its horn once the tine finishes playing.
  • Jerkass: Tabitha is one towards The Laugh when she thinks he’s just some guy looking for his girlfriend.
  • Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: Perhaps it wasn't the smartest of moves for The Laugh to lock Tabitha in the back of a truck containing his various props. Including his knives.
  • Missing Steps Plan: The villain's plans are almost entirely luck-based. For instance, in the opening chapter, he uses a CB radio to fool a truck driver into leading his victims down a rural road - somehow knowing that driver was carrying a passenger who would jump from the truck, and that the driver would not stop to get her for some reason. Then he doesn't just kidnap the girls, but he also pretends to be injured to frame the truck driver, only to kill the driver and then Rob. If any part of his plan had failed, this movie would not have happened.
  • Monster Clown: The Laugh hides in plain sight in the second segment by dressing in a clown costume that's lacking its nose.
  • Nobody Here but Us Statues: The Laugh pretends to be a (large) clown doll in a room full of clown dolls.
  • No Name Given: The villain is only credited as 'The Laugh'.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: When the camera isn't on him, the Laugh moves around in ways that seem impossible. One instance is when. while in his clown disguise, he manages to sneak past Tabitha to leave the room they're in in the few seconds she looks away while on the phone. Another happens later, when he not only manages to find Lisa in a completely different part of the building than where he'd been before, but he also somehow had time to disguise himself flawlessly and shave.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune: The "metal scope Victrola" is basically a large music box and plays a creepy song that shoots darts from the phonograph horn.
  • Once Is Not Enough: Just stabbing the Laugh in the neck with a scalpel barely slows him down.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: The Trauma Counselor is a Kiwi trying to do an American Southern accent. She’s not doing a very good job.
  • Peekaboo Corpse: When Tabitha tries to hide in the shed, she opens a cupboard and the babysitter's body falls on top of her.
  • Power Trio: Tabitha, Shelby and Lisa used to be this when they were kids.
  • Psychopathic Man Child: The Laugh hadn't changed for years, remaining the same sick little kid for years.
  • Refuge in Audacity: That's a polite way of describing the killer's overcomplicated plans. A less polite way would be to say "if the babysitter had thought to kick that giant creepy out-of-place clown doll this whole plan would have failed."
  • Spotting the Thread: A likely unintentional example. The deaf man Lisa meets while searching for her friend & boyfriend responds to the same Wilhelm Scream that surprises her, cluing the audience in that he's actually the Laugh in disguise.
  • Stock Scream: The Wilhelm Scream and a woman's scream make a ridiculous appearance for little reason.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Literally everyone. YMS sums it up pretty well.
    • Shelby’s boyfriend somehow doesn’t see a body and a truck with its headlights on until they’re right in front of him and he’s forced to veer off the road and crash into some farming equipment.
    • The kids Tabitha is babysitting are unrealistically stupid, even for kids. Even when it’s become clear something is wrong, they insist that The Laugh “just wants to play!”
    • After escaping the house with The Laugh still chasing her, rather than doing anything to help her situation, Tabitha fucks up so badly that she incapacitates herself for him.
    • Lisa has a working phone, but at no point does she even try to call the police.
    • Lisa somehow can’t figure out how to loosen a ratchet tie-down strap.
    • The Trauma Counselor apparently drove to and walked through The Laugh’s dank underground lair without thinking anything was suspicious. She also doesn’t tell Tabirha that they're in a creepy basement and not a police building.
    • Tabitha tosses away her only means of defense while escaping.
    • The Laugh not taking his knife out of the back of his truck and then looking through the peephole.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: The Laugh tormented a rat for his class project and then had harbored a grudge for years because three girls didn't think it was "funny".
  • Urban Legends: The film is practically a rehash of popular urban legends mashed into a single storyline. The 'clown doll' story in the second act is a particularly notable example.
  • Viewers Are Morons: After the woman jumps from the truck, she tells Shelby, “No, he didn’t push me, I jumped.” This “reveal” relies on both Shelby and the audience being so stupid that their base assumption to the situation is not that the woman jumped out or fell, but that the truck driver somehow threw her out of the back of his truck while he was driving and then just took off.
  • The Walls Are Closing In: The torture chamber has a huge room with glass walls that close in onto Tabitha just so The Laugh can torment her some more.