Terrifier 2 - New Release Review
Director: Damien Leone
Starring: David Howard Thornton, Lauren LaVera, Elliott Fullam, Sarah Voigt, Casey Hartnett, Kailey Hyman
Written by: Damien Leone
Produced by: Steven Della Salla, Phil Falcone, Jason Leavy, Michael Leavy
Cinematography by: George Stuber
Original Score by: Paul Wiley
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.
There's a brand new horror icon and his name is Art the Clown. I'm certain that everybody reading this review right now are already familiar with Art's particular set of skills and his preferred method of maiming and killing and it goes without saying that this sequel to Damien Leone's 2016 shocker is unrelentingly brutal and never pulls it's punches.
After first appearing in a selection of short films from director Leone, Art made his first feature film appearance in the 'All Hallows Eve' anthology from 2013. He was originally played by Mike Giannelli but after retiring from acting David Howard Thornton took over the role for Art's first proper solo film 'Terrifier'. To say that Art the Clown shocked audiences would be a huge understatement. He is a serial killer of the cruelest kind, devoid of any sort of human emotions and seems to only live to hurt, disfigure and ultimately end the lives of innocent people in the most disturbing ways possible. One of the most shocking scenes from the first film involves a naked woman hanging upside down and a rusty saw. I will say no more.
'Terrifier 2' very much continues in the same vein as the first film and any hesitations that the sequel may hold back on the guts and gore are quickly squashed in the opening scene as Art, who has returned from the dead under mysterious circumstances, bludgeons the mortician to death then proceeds to literally tear his head apart with his bare hands and remove his brain. And this isn't even the most grotesque scene in the film. Art then moves onto a laundrette where he washes his costume and this is where we meet his sidekick, a sort of little girl mini-me version of himself who is actually a previous victim. It's a phenomenal opening sequence which perfectly reintroduces the callous and evil nature of our oddball villain, then we get hit with a 'Dream Warriors'-esque montage to introduce our lead girl Sienna, played by Lauren LaVera. She's constructing her Halloween cosplay of intricately cut, bevelled and painted armour, which will actually prove to be more significant later on in the film.
The rest of the film is, as expected, a barrage of ferociously sick murders of the locals interspersed with Sienna and her family and friends coming to terms with the myth and the legend that is Art the Clown.
'Terrifier 2' is a merciless horror film that knows exactly what it is and never tries to appease a certain section of the horror family to garner more favourable reviews. Leone knows full well who his target audience is here and he delivers in spades. While it has some deeply unsettling imagery and scenes full of extreme violence and visceral mutilation, it remarkably contains just enough camp and humour to assuage the film from becoming too unbearable to watch. There is as much blood and guts and gore and hanging flesh and bulging eyes and snapped bones onscreen here as I've ever seen in a wide(ish) released film before but somehow Art has positioned himself as someone who we absolutely want to see doing more of what he does best. There are definitely some scenes that were just too much for me but it's simply impossible not to adore David Howard Thornton's performance. I was genuinely floored by his physicality and the fact that he doesn't behave like an morosely, disturbed mass murderer had me in stitches at times. And the makeup effects, which are so over the top they drift into being a bit cartoonish at times (in the best possible way) are insanely impressive. The introduction of a supernatural/fantasy element outside of Art's character involving a particular weapon, which seemed to be heavily inspired by 80s horror films, really helped to push the fun levels through the roof.
Yes it is disgusting viewing. Yes some of the kill scenes are tough to watch. And yes it will be labelled all types of venomous words like "abhorrent" and "repulsive" and rightly or wrongly thrown onto the pile of "controversial" horror films without substance but 'Terrifier 2' is better than that and at the very least it should sit proudly at the top of that pile. It's a horror film definitely not without substance. It may live and die by the severity of Art's despicable atrocities but the film is really well shot with some gorgeously lit scenes and the performances from the main cast are impressive. Lauren LaVera and Elliott Fullam are fantastic and even some of the supporting cast have great moments, particularly Sienna's friend Brooke, played by Kailey Hyman.
Ultimately this is a slasher film set on Halloween night so the kill count is generally the most important factor to take into account. While I would've liked a little more teasing from Art and maybe some more traditional cat and mouse suspenseful scenes, I know that's usually not Art's style. Leone may be reaching with the narrative too but he does create a fantastic final girl in Sienna and helps to build Art's legacy as being a bonafide horror icon and what do we know for certain about horror icons? They NEVER die.
- Gavin Logan
Signature Entertainment presents 'Terrifier 2' on Digital Platforms, DVD and Blu-ray alongside 'Terrifier 1 & 2' Blu-ray box-set 24th October