Beware all those who do not look back on the VHS “video nasties” of the 1980s with a loving nostalgia. “Terrifier 2” is a blood and guts-soaked tribute to those thrilling days of practical gore yesteryear, and then some!
Beginning where the first film (2017’s Terrifier) left off, writer/director Damien Leone has filled this sequel to the rim and beyond with extreme gore, wasting not one moment of the 2 hour and 20-minute running time.
Leone’s goal here is to enhance the mythology of his creepy creation, Art the Clown (David Howard Thornton), a silent and sadistic killer who can’t be stopped. I can’t promise you a steady coherence in the film’s screenplay, but I can assure genre fans of one bizarre and bloody ride.
While the first film found the killer clown slicing and dicing a small number of victims in and around a closed warehouse, “Terrifier 2” expands the cast a bit by introducing a main character and her friends and family, opening the film to a somewhat structured beginning.
Art stalks high schooler Sienna (a solid Lauren LaVera) and her younger brother Jonathan (Elliott Fullam), who has an unhealthy obsession with serial killers, including our main baddie.
As Art the Clown continues his Halloween night rampage, Sienna, her brother, mother, and friends must survive. The reason for our killer setting his sights on these new characters is a mystery that is not to be solved in this entry.
The screenplay sets up more questions than answers, but it doesn’t matter, as Leone gives horror fans what they want, and then gives them more, and then even more than that.
With only three film appearances (the character first showed up in the final segment of Leone’s 2013 anthology “All Hallow’s Eve”), Art the Clown is already one of the horror genre’s most beloved slashers and deservedly so, as he is a truly terrifying creation.
David Howard Thornton’s performance is a kind of psychotic brilliance. His devilish grin and macabre pantomime make the creation frightening and darkly comedic in equal measure, Charlie Chaplin by way of Charles Manson.
A great addition to the film is a twisted character called The Little Pale Girl. Played by Amelie McLain, she is a little girl clown with a horrific grin and ghoulish look that compliments the presence of Art the Clown. While her presence will have audiences scratching their heads, The Little Pale Girl is a truly creepy inclusion to the world of “Terrifier”.
It is important to not pay close attention to the script, as many things don’t make a lot of sense, but director Leone has promised to settle all accounts in “Terrifier 3”. Hey, horror fans aren’t here for Shakespearean plots and dialogues. Leone’s picture promised a bloodbath and fans will not be disappointed.
The gore effects (designed by the director) are all practical and intended to gross out the audience. Leone gives audiences more extreme blood splatter, brains, and intestines than 10 slasher movies; each one pleasingly jaw-dropping in their execution.
The kills are quite unpleasant but, for genre aficionados who miss the wild abandon of 80’s gorefests, they are a grotesque delight.
Complimented by George Steuber’s unnervingly creepy cinematography, Leone crafts many tension-filled moments, proving he has the skill to manipulate and keep his viewers on edge. A scene in a Halloween store with Art the Clown, Sienna, and one lone employee is particularly captivating and makes excellent use of lighting and location.
Paul Wiley’s pulsating 80’s-styled synthesized score recalls composer Jay Chattaway’s moody work for 1980’s “Maniac”, which was certainly an influence on this film. Wiley’s score is as sinister as Art himself.
There have been reports of walk outs and people fainting. Perhaps this may have happened once or twice, as today’s audiences aren’t accustomed to this kind of splatter buffet. I’m sure much of it is ballyhoo just to sell the film, a’la William Castle. Still, the uninitiated will indeed be shocked at what they see.
“Terrifier 2” is a very good horror movie done with skill and a perverse creativity that is most welcome.
In today’s jump scare heavy (and mostly pedestrian) genre cinema, Damien Leone reminds us that low budget creepers continue to have a place in theaters, and that today’s horror films don’t always need to make a statement.
Like the films during the heyday of slasher cinema, sometimes it’s fun to just sit back and enjoy the carnage.
Written and Directed by Damien Leone
Starring David Howard Thornton, Lauren LaVera, Elliot Fullam, Sara Voigt, Amelie McLain
NR, 138 Minutes, Dark Age Cinema/Fuzz on the Lens Productions/Bloody Disgusting