In 2015, an unidentified man in Naples, Florida donning a petrifying clown get-up made The Washington Post for doing what he does best: scaring the living daylights out of the neighborhood children. A Southwest Florida legend, Wrinkles The Clown spent years putting genuine fear into the hearts of the local youth— often with a simple dead-eyed inky stare— while generating tall tales and a burgeoning social media presence. But he didn’t materialize out of nowhere; he was hired by desperate parents who just wanted to scare their kids into more palatable behavior by making them think their insolence had somehow attracted a murderous clown. Nope, that shouldn’t render any permanent damage at all.
Wrinkles The Clown is a documentary that takes a rare, in-depth look at the creepy culture surrounding Wrinkles—how he came to be, the fear he inspired, and how his story drastically changed shape with the help of social media. The trailer briefly illustrates how the mystery man built a presence, from voicemails offering cash to scare misbehaving children to weathering a swiftly growing media storm, before hinting at the identity of an aging veteran who simply had trouble securing work as a regular, only mildly terrifying clown. Take a look at the official synopsis:
“In late 2014, a low-res video of a person in a clown mask emerging from underneath a sleeping child’s bed appears on YouTube. The description below the video claims that the clown is named “Wrinkles,” that he lives in southwest Florida, and that he’s been hired by the child’s parents to frighten her for misbehaving. The video goes viral. Soon, more mysterious videos of Wrinkles scaring children appear online, along with a phone number to hire him for “behavioral services.” Wrinkles becomes internet lore - a whole genre of YouTube videos of kids filming themselves calling him appears online, and over a million messages are left at the number. Voicemails range from disturbing to hilarious to terrifying: parents use the number to terrify their children, kids who are obsessive fans of creepy clowns reach out to make a new friend, children threaten to inflict wildly creative violence if he comes anywhere near them. But who is Wrinkles, and why is he doing this? With incredible access to the mastermind behind the mask, Wrinkles the Clown is a cryptic and playful exploration of these questions, as well as an inside look at myth-building and the unpredictable spread of imagination in the Internet age.”