Terrifier 2 (2022)
Directed by Damien Leone
Director Damien Leone made his 2016 slasher “Terrifier” with a shoestring budget of $35,000. The gory horror movie—which didn’t introduce his character Art the Clown (that was his 2011 short of the same name), but definitely increased awareness of him—had drab, uninteresting sets and lackluster writing and acting. But Art, a 6-foot-tall sad clown who doesn’t speak, was such a demented villain that it didn’t matter how amateur the production was. For its sequel, the new movie “Terrifier 2,” Leone got a budget of $250,000. This meant a longer runtime, more unique settings, and a bigger cast. It also meant some of the most excessive bloodshed I’ve ever seen on screen.
Just a year after the massacre shown in the first movie, Art the Clown (David Howard Thornton) is still on the minds of everyone in Monroe County, New York. Will he return this Halloween? Who will he target? Will anyone be able to stop him? Teenager Sienna (Lauren LaVera) has Halloween night plans with her friends. They’re not letting rumors ruin their costume party. But her little brother Jonathan (Elliot Fullam), who has been researching the murderer to an alarming extent, fears that Art the Clown will return. He tells his sister, ominously, not to be surprised when a bunch of people wind up dead.
“Terrifier 2” is a slasher movie, but it isn’t focused on jump scares. Art the Clown is in no rush. He knows he’ll get his victims in the end. And when he does, he really makes a meal out of their deaths. Mutilation is his MO. For those of you with a weak stomach, I’d opt for something tamer instead. Anecdotes of audience members vomiting, fainting, or leaving the theater midway through the movie’s excruciating 138-minute runtime don’t surprise me at all. It takes a toll on your stomach. I nearly got nauseous during one scene relatively early on. The makeup and special effects teams deserve credit for making this movie stand out from other slashers. It’s downright gruesome. But the story never drags. It surprised me, if I’m being honest, how fast this 2.5-hour movie passes by.
While I was unimpressed by the acting in “Terrifier,” its sequel shows a marked improvement. Besides one major character—who dies halfway through the movie anyway—I was impressed by the performances of this young cast. I was most impressed with Lauren LaVera, who establishes herself as a badass scream queen, and youngster Amelie McClain, who plays Art the Clown’s accomplice (It’s been quite a week for mute murderers and their unexpected sidekicks, hasn’t it?). Also, I can’t say enough about how creepy David Howard Thornton is when in character. Sure, the costume and makeup (and those disgusting teeth) go a long way—a really long way—in making the character terrifying. But Thornton’s silent performance is the nail in the coffin…so to speak.
“Terrifier 2” is a true gorefest. Like all the best classic gory movies, this one relies on the strength of its shock value to entertain audiences. For that reason, “Terrifier 2” is one of the best new horror movies I’ve seen in years.