Of course a mental element is required: a court must find that the perpetrator indeed intended to threaten force. But an inference can be easily drawn that the threat was intended even if actual force was not applied and there was no actual plan to apply it.
The criminal code goes even further and can capture behaviour in this realm that does not even require leaving the house. In Toronto, mere online threats by a group calling itself “Clowns of the 6” may constitute criminal offences themselves. It is a criminal offence, per section 264.1 of the Criminal Code to knowingly utter, convey, or cause any person to receive a threat to cause death or bodily harm to any person or to burn, destroy or damage real or personal property.
So does the clever prankster simply leave the weapon at home and go have his or her fun? It is not that simple.
Another definition of assault from the same Criminal Code section includes a person who “attempts or threatens, by an act or a gesture, to apply force to another person, if he has, or causes that other person to believe on reasonable grounds that he has, present ability to effect his purpose”.
An act gesture that threatens to apply force. Chasing after a terrified person who is desperately running from you, while dressed as a murderous clown in the middle of the night? It is certainly no stretch to imagine a judge who would consider that to be threatening behaviour, is it?