Movie Review – Terrifier 2
Principal Cast : Lauren LaVera, Elliot Fullam, Sarah Voigt, Amelie McLain, Chris Jericho, David Howard Thornton, Kailey Hyman, Casey Hartnett, Charlie McElveen, Samantha Scaffidi.
Synopsis: After being resurrected by a sinister entity, Art the Clown returns to the timid town of Miles County where he targets a teenage girl and her younger brother on Halloween night.
Terrifier 2 is a nasty, horrifying, often repugnant piece of work. It’s a graphically violent, sickeningly depraved horror film that delights in gore and voluminous liquids, whilst simultaneously delivering some remarkable scares, creepy tension and a
smidgen generous helping of supernatural slasher violence the likes of which has been absent from our screens since the 1980’s. The Terrifier franchise also boasts one of the more memorable slasher villains in modern times, the immediately frightening Art The Clown, about as far removed from IT’s Pennywise as you can get whilst simultaneously being just as iconic. For sheer gore-porn there are few films like this; if there’s ever a movie that delivers exactly what it suggests on the box, it’s Terrifier 2.
The film centres around the family of Sienna Shaw (Lauren LaVera), a high school teen celebrating Halloween, and whose brother, Jonathan (Elliot Fullam) has begun to obsess over the growing myth of an evil mass killer clown, Art (David Howard Thornton), whose body has never been found following a massacre a year prior. Sienna’s mother, Barbara (Sarah Voigt) is a single mum trying to raise her kids as best she can. As Art tracks his way through the suburban Miles County, having visions of a Little Pale Girl (Amelie McLain) who assists him commit atrocity after atrocity, Sienna and her friend Brooke (Kailey Hyman) are out on the town on Halloween night when Art starts yet another brutal massacre of residents and partygoers.
Clocking in at nearly two and a half hours, Terrifier 2 doesn’t want for time to maximise the horror, gore and sheer audacity to commit to the screen some of the wild kills and crimes we are witness to. This is a heavily violent movie, shifting between semi-comedic splatter orgy and outright bloodthirsty gore-porn, a mix of Eli Roth’s Hostel, Peter Jackson’s Braindead, and the savage kind of slasher tropes we’ve seen on genre C and D-movies over the last forty years. Where Terrifier 2 differentiates itself is just how brutal it is, but also how ballsy it attempts to be with its limited plotting, with director – noted indie horror filmmaker Damien Leone (All Hallows Eve) – doing his absolute best to ensure the protagonists of this film are fully fleshed out and realised as characters, rather than just lambs to the eventual slaughter. I won’t say the writing is great, because there are elements to the film that do leave a little bit to be desired, but this is a hugely competent film with plenty of amazing visual tricks spectacular (and not quite spectacular) practical effects, and an absolute orgy of entertainment value if you enjoy the kind of puerile, hostile horror that comes with a filmmaker going for absolute broke and succeeding.
One part Lynchian nightmare, another part Wes Craven slasher, and alternating between gleeful gore-porn and satisfying Final Girl terror, Terrifier 2 starts strong and never relents, despite a mid-film malaise borne from some slightly bloated editorial decisions based on development of character. Lauren LaVera makes for a sexy and solid scream queen, dressed like some fantastical Amazonian warrior for the majority of the film, even if the motivation for it is a touch confusing. Cosplay warrior princess wouldn’t have been my first choice for a main character but LaVera is terrific with the material, understanding innately that she’s about to have the living shit kicked out of her by the torturous blood-soaked machinations of David Thornton’s indescribably creepy Art the Clown. Her on-screen brother, played by Elliot Fullam, is less interesting but a valued part of the narrative, tapping into the supernatural aspects of the evil clown, and while Fullam isn’t the strongest actor he’s more than serviceable, and his screen chemistry with LaVera is excellent.
Part of the fun (if you can call it that) of the film’s gratuitous violence is just how much the filmmaking team behind the camera appear to be having. Gushing blood, body parts, decapitations and all manner of beating, whipping, slicing and dicing, bone shattering violence and screaming form the tableau upon which Terrifier 2 enjoys salacious and satisfying horror, and is most definitely not for the faint of heart. Okay, so some of the vast array of practical effects (I think the majority of the visual effects in the film are practical, as best as I can make out) do look a little chintzy from time to time, but overall the technical skill of the filmmakers is absolutely on-point; shotgun headshots, rebar going through skulls, kneecaps being obliterated, people on fire, small and large hammers, machine guns and broom handles, Terrifier 2 utilises all manner of inanimate objects to inflict injury and carnage across the screen in glorious high definition, and if this is your kind of thing then you’ll love it. If nothing else, Terrifier 2 delivers on the promise it begins with, and goes hard with its pornographic fascination with blood.
If there’s a single flaw with Terrifier 2, it’s that it’s far too long. At two and a half hours it will test even the hardest resolve of the deepest horror fan, and some sequences do feel quite overly explanative. Dialogue sequences fare the worst, to be honest, with a lot of exposition and character development feeling far too lengthy and not precise enough here and there, extended the time between Art’s appearances resulting in substantial death. This won’t hurt for an initial viewing, but there will be plenty of fingers on the fast forward button in future rewatches. A more concise film exists within this one somewhere, and as much fun as I had with this ghastly movie I wish it had trimmed a lot of fat out. A whole dream sequence involving a Clown Cafe feels too convoluted, and the protracted Sienna Vs Art finale lingers, with too many “finale flourishes” trying to twist the knife on the audience. I understand it, the filmmakers have all this great stuff they want people to watch, but narrative expediency and emotional weight don’t just exist in a vacuum so you need to ensure you cut deep, and cut hard – like Art himself. If you aren’t a huge fan of this kind of mental material, you’ll likely have checked out by the time the two sexy best friends decide to do MDMA in a parked car (and you know they’re about to die), and the film still has nearly forty minutes left to run. So as much fun as I was having with the movie, even I can realise that an editor without such attachment to the material might have been a better choice to put this one together.
Sickening, depraved, brutal: these are all adequate descriptor’s for Terrifier 2’s bloody antics and to be honest, I haven’t had so much fun with a horror film in a long time. Because it’s so over the top I never took it seriously, which probably minimises the effectiveness of the film on me. Debauched beyond reason, Terrifier 2 is terrific independent genre fun. Films like this would never be given a cinematic release here in Australia (I viewed the Unrated version from the US), but this is one of those movies that demands you see it with a full theatre audience, because the reactions alone would be worth the price of admission. Genre fans should definitely seek this out.