I'm guessing the haunting owl eyes are.a reference to a type of screen memory (as was described by Whitley Striber, author of: "Communion").
The OP's idea is interesting, who knows?
I wonder how far back the idea can be traced.
I never had a fear of clowns, but I get how it could be seen as creepy.
Kind of comparable to the whole 'uncanny valley' situation.
A painted face becomes open to interpretation.