Art the Clown captivated the horror world with the release “Terrifier” in 2016. An iconic horror performance by David Howard Thorton as Art the Clown coupled with creative, gruesome kills had horror fans dying for more. Damien Leone returns once again as the writer, director, producer, editor and makeup artist. Leone improves on nearly every aspect of filmmaking here in “Terrifier 2”. His meticulous control of the film and Howard Thorton returning as Art the Clown result in a film that is a nearly two-and-a-half-hour house of horrors. “Terrifier 2” was released to select theaters on Oct. 6, 2022.
“Terrifier 2” doesn’t shoot for the stars; it shoots for the galaxy. Leone and company truly packed this film to its absolute limit. The kills are simply cringe-inducing, the body count is high and the character of Art the Clown is fleshed out even more. That being said, this film is not quite a home run. There’s a lot to love here as a horror fan, but there are some flaws in this ambitious film.
Leone and the special effects team that he led are the true heroes of “Terrifier 2”. The kills here are simply jaw-dropping at points. Every single body part imaginable can and will be dismantled by Art the Clown. Every single time they are, it looks horrifically realistic. You can truly feel every dismemberment, every slash and every stab that Art’s victims suffer. The talent on display from both the makeup and special effects team here is incredible and deserves all the praise in the world. There are so many instances of cringe-inducing, disgusting uses of blood and gore that would not look as convincing if it was in the hands of a lesser makeup and effects team. They truly make the film.
David Howard Thorton truly transforms Art the Clown from a horror villain to a horror icon here. He never speaks in either of the films, but his physical performance, eye movements and silent presence are truly impressive. Art is the perfect balance between a silent killer (Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees) and a charismatic killer (Freddy Kruger, Chucky). He is downright terrifying when he is murdering his victims. However, Leone’s writing and Thorton’s physical performance create some hysterical, darkly comedic moments throughout the film.
“Terrifer 2” is an improvement in every aspect of filmmaking compared to the first one. Given that the film’s budget is much more than the original’s measly $100,000 one, the cinematography looks marginally better. The acting here is also much better. The cast is much bigger than the original’s small one, and the actors for the most part feel much more experienced. Though there are some poor performances present here, it’s a major improvement over the bad acting present in the original. In addition to the improved acting from the cast, the story of “Terrifier 2” is also much improved. The first “Terrifier” felt like an extended short film, essentially being an 84-minute compilation of Art stalking and killing people. “Terrifier 2” actually has a narrative throughline and character arcs.
Speaking of the improved acting, Lauren LaVera (Sienna) is quite good here. You truly care about her character through a sympathetic and charismatic performance from LaVera. Sienna is your archetypal horror protagonist and “final girl” that faces off with Art at the end. Though her character is admittedly archetypal, Leone writes her with enough quirks to avoid her feeling too derivative. The Wonder Woman-esque costume that she wears in the third act while facing off against Art is sure to be an iconic horror look.
All of this being said, that’s not to say that “Terrifier 2” is without its flaws. For starters, this film is way too long. This film has no business being nearly two and a half hours long. The entire plot begins to feel over-bloated, especially in the second half. The second half and the third act specifically could have benefitted from a rewrite.
Being a horror fan, I love gore. I love unique kills, good practical effects and general brutality. That being said, you can argue that “Terrifier 2” pushes it a bit too far here. I’m all for brutal kills and the filmmaker putting their characters through the wringer, but I do think that some of the torture and kills are a bit too much. There’s a perfect balance that the best horror films use; balancing the on-screen brutality and the implied and psychological horror is a must. I strongly recommend skipping this film if you don’t do well with gore. “Terrifier 2” is simply demented at times.
“Terrifier 2” is a film that swings for the fences and ultimately hits a triple; it’s a bit too ambitious for its own good. However, the bloody journey that Damien Leon takes us on is worth the price of admission for any veteran horror fan. The downright gruesome gore, Howard Thorton’s performance as Art the Clown and the makeup/practical effects alone overshadow the story issues and overabundance of brutality. 7 out of 10.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of The Torch.