Terrifier 2 review – A blood-drenched slasher epic!

Terrifier 2 review – A blood-drenched slasher epic!

When Terrifier first hit screens back in 2016, who could have predicted that the baddie at the center of the tale, a silent, killer clown named Art, would become the next slasher entity to enter the canon? The film, which I was lucky to catch at a local indie film fest (PUFF), was a DIY labor of love from writer/director Damien Leone. A splattery fever dream with a budget as low as its morals, Terrifier is the sort of flick that historically exists solely to please gorehounds before dissolving into the ether only to be mentioned by horror zealots looking to name-drop something obscure to impress their friends. It certainly deserves more love than that, but that’s just not the world we live in.

Or is it?

Fast forward a few years and suddenly I’m seeing Art the Clown everywhere. He’s not fading away as expected. Not even a little. Art, with just a single movie under his belt*, became a costume you could buy at Spirit Halloween — probably the best metric for determining that a slasher baddie had “made it.”

So naturally, there had to be a sequel.

I don’t know who told Leone that it was okay to make his sequel TWO-AND-A-HALF HOURS LONG (or more accurately, who refrained from telling him it wasn’t advisable), but color me glad that he didn’t listen. Somehow, perhaps by the same dark magic that Art the Clown ascended ranks to stand alongside Freddy and Jason, Terrifier 2, in its extremely long, extremely disgusting glory, ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY ROCKS.

At the end of the first film, our polka-dotted Pierrot is very much dead, his days of wiping shit on walls and cutting women in half at their vagina long behind him. But during the closing credits we see that some sort of malevolent force has potentially brought him back to slay another day. Terrifier 2 picks up at this very moment and wastes no time getting to the goods. Within seconds the mortician is gruesomely dispatched and Art (David Howard Thornton), accompanied by a younger female clown counterpart that only he can see, is back out on the streets doing what he does best (killing). How has he managed to come back? Details are vague, but it may have something to do with his appearances in the dreams of our heroine, Sienna (Lauren LaVera).

Things aren’t great in Sienna’s home life. Her father recently passed away, her brother (Elliott Fullman) is exhibiting concerning tastes and behaviors, and her mother (Sara Voigt) is at wits end with it all. There’s love here, but it’s understandably rather strained. To add to the stress, Sienna is having extremely vivid dreams featuring the killer clown whose name I’m tired of typing — dreams that manifest disaster in the real world.

Soon, Sienna’s family and friends are targeted by our killer, and it’s up to her to figure out not just why it’s happening, but how to stop it.

Terrifier 2 will be remembered for its splattery gore effects (all created and executed by Damien Leone), as well as its brazen disregard for common filmmaking wisdom, but where it’s most effective in the moment is in uncommonly strong characterizations brought to life by realistic performances. Yes, the tone here may be Jason Lives by way of John Waters, but the cast could be supplanted into a family drama and fit perfectly. So much so that it stings when so many of them are torn to shreds in gloriously vulgar and upsetting ways (see also: hilarious). So often when working within a splattery mold, goopy effects are enough. Terrifier 2 works hard to make sure the carnage happens to people we care about. I don’t want a character I love to die…but man what a head explosion!!!

There’s this one scene…oh baby. It’s no wonder people are passing out in the theater.

So what started as a gnarly little short film has given birth to a franchise that, if the gods of moving pictures are good, is only just beginning. And given the success of the theatrical release (recently expanded) it seems that horror fans are voting with their dollars. Art the Clown may be undead on screen, but here in the real world he has attained immortality. I can’t wait to see what fucked up tortures Damien Leone, and by extension, Art the Clown, come up with next.

*All Hallow’s Eve, an anthology which features as one of its segments the short film that Terrifier is based on notwithstanding.

Directed by Damien Leone

Written by Damien Leone

Starring Lauren LaVera, David Howard Thornton, Kailey Hyman, Elliott Fullam

Not Rated, 138 minutes

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