Writer/director Damien Leone’s Terrifier turned savage killer Art the Clown (David Howard Thornton) into a slasher icon practically overnight. Now, with the long-awaited Terrifier 2, Art is back and more sadistic than ever…
…Having recently played at Fantastic Fest, Terrifier 2 takes place one year after the horrifying events of the first film, with Art returning to Miles County on Halloween night. There, he sets his sights on Sienna (Lauren LaVera) and her little brother, Jonathan (Elliot Fullam), both recovering from the recent passing of their father. Art will stop at nothing to add the two to his long list of victims, but these siblings aren’t going down without a fight.
Terrifier 2 is the kind of horror film that would’ve had Siskel and Ebert calling for Leone to be jailed. I can only imagine the rantings they and every other nervous, horror hating critic would’ve gone on back in the day about how films like this were destroying the youth or some nonsense. “Won’t somebody please think of the children,” horrified parents would scream. This is of course my way of saying that I can pretty much guarantee you won’t see anything this year that’s as grimy, gross or goddamn gruesome as Terrifier 2.
In keeping with the slasher sequel rule of going bigger and bloodier, Leone achieves that and then some during Art’s latest rampage. Mere moments pass before Art is ripping out eyeballs, smashing open a skull like a piñata and having playtime with dead bodies. For some slashers, these bits of depravity would be the extent of the film’s nastiness. But Art is just getting started. That should come as no surprise for fans of the first film which had its fair share of boundary-pushing shocks. Well, Terrifier 2 doesn’t just push boundaries, it blows them the hell up. Leone isn’t an artist carefully painting with a brush, here. He loads up a bazooka with gore and blasts the scene into a bloody mess. I’m not sure any one kill tops that one from the original, but holy hell does this sequel take a few swings at it. No stomach is safe from the nauseating—though excellent—circus of gore that is Terrifier 2.
Limping their way through this utterly mad mess are sympathetic characters which Leone takes much more care in developing this time around. Sienna is attempting to connect to her father by recreating an angelic warrior he used to draw for her as her Halloween costume. Jonathan has fallen down the “something’s wrong with that boy” path in his obsession with wanting to dress like Art, with Sienna worried he may actually become a killer. Even Art himself gets a little understanding—as much as the audience possibly can empathize with this fiend—in his pairing with a creepy little girl just like him (Georgie MacPhail). Parallels between the two pairs are drawn to create a sense of the need to connect to those we have lost or fear losing and our willingness to fight for them to the bitter end. The emotion of such a theme doesn’t always translate in a film that’s only concerned with the next big kill scene, but one thing’s for sure: LaVera’s Sienna is one kick ass final girl who roars through the latter half of the film as a furious angel of vengeance that is having none of Art’s shit.
Speaking of Art’s companion, viewers concerned that Terrifier 2 will explain away the mystery of this killer clown can calm down. If anything, all Leone does is create more questions. During its over-bloated runtime of two plus hours, the film throws in a blood-soaked kitchen sink of ideas that more or less go nowhere. It’s as if every conceivable concept for a sequel was thrown into this Bozo bucket of blood. Aside from Art’s demonic sidekick, there are hints at an ability to invade dreams ala Freddy Krueger. Supernatural weapons (kind of?). Unfulfilled prophecies. Potential though unexplained origins of Art and the film’s title. None of it works. None of it makes sense. Yet all of it makes for entertaining chaos that powers through the flaws. I for one prefer the simplicity of the original, but you can’t argue that this sequel is one insane, nightmarish ride.
No surprise, but Thornton’s maniacal performance once again steals the show. Art runs absolutely wild in this sequel. Terrifier 2 is a deranged funhouse in which the killer clown's sick humor is allowed to shine in all of its nauseating glory. The most disturbing element of Art isn’t in how he kills, but what he does with the bodies after. He's like a kid splashing around in a gory puddle of guts, which a few scenes lean all the way into. Leone loads up on twisted, intestine-splitting humor that is alternatively so brutal, some of you may need to repeat that classic tagline to yourself, “it’s only a movie, it’s only a movie, it’s only a movie”.
Terrifier 2 runs way too long. It’s mean-spirited. Unapologetic in its brutality. And plays like a sloppy first draft slipping around on a blood-soaked floor. It’s also the sort of endlessly entertaining, epic gorefest that those who enjoy their nasty slashers crave. It won’t be for those without a taste for low-grade sleaze, but for anyone who ate up the first film, Terrifier 2 is a sticky Halloween treat served up in a freshly decapitated head.
Gorehounds, eat your heart out.
Terrifier 2 slashes into theaters October 6th through Cinedigm in partnership with Iconic Events, along with plans for Bloody Disgusting to bring the film to Screambox this Fall.
By Matt Konopka