Terrifier 2 Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
A brutal splatter flick, with a terrifying iconic character, who simply doesn’t know when to stop mutilating. This is not for the faint of heart!
Director: Damien Leone
Cast: David Howard Thornton, Lauren LaVera, Elliot Fullam, Amelie McLain, Sarah Voigt, Casey Hartnett, Kailey Hyman, Charlie McElveen & Samantha Scaffidi
Run Time: 138 min.
US Release: 06 October 2022
UK Release: 24 October 2022 (Direct-to-Video)
German Release: 08 December 2022
Finally! After months of listening from an international audience, about the high level of violence in Leone’s sequel to his 2016 splatter flick, Terrifier 2 made it to German cinemas. More unbelievably, the feature will be released uncut! Having seen it the night before in a special preview, I can already warn that this is definitely not for those who can’t handle blood or gore! The big question, however, is if Leone’s second act of Art the Clown’s murder spree is any better than the horrible, first film.
After being revived by a mysterious entity, Art the Clown begins his murder marathon anew, starting in the morgue of Miles County, with the coroner. Now back out on the streets, the crazed clown targets a teenage girl and her brother on Halloween night.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was not a big fan of the first Terrifier, it was a cheap picture out to shock with extreme graphic violence. There is no plot, silly dialogue, as well as terrible acting - other than David Howard Thornton. That said, the character of Art himself is quite a fascinating one, worth exploring further. The director himself created the murdering clown for his short The 9th Circle, meant to be a twisted adaptation of Dante’s Inferno. From then on, Art became the regisseur’s favourite character, in five of his six productions.
The biggest mistake Damien Leone made, was to give his sequel a runtime of over two hours. The story is very thin, meaning that anytime Art is not on screen killing, the pacing screeches to a near halt! Leone tries to include some aspects of mythology surrounding his murdering jester, yet he never really delves into it. This is also true for the backstory of Sienna, the final girl, whose family is somehow connected to Art, though nothing is ever explained. Instead, we get a single mother complaining about her children, teenagers discussing their lives while dancing in a nightclub, or an elongated scene in a high school.
The kills are spread throughout those scenes and are the plot’s highlight. Yes, they are exaggeratedly brutal simply out of shock value, but they are also incredibly creative. The premise is best when focusing on that what it is, a low-budget, pulpy grindhouse flick, tributing eighties flair. I also thought that the light fantasy touch, surrounding the final girl, is intriguing as well as Art himself, who has the potential to become a new horror icon. The narrative contains the potential to create a great mythology surrounding the character, unfortunately, it is all left in the open.
Dialogues have been improved, though still sound a little silly, especially when two people get into a fight. A lot of the lines are delivered overly dramatically, with people shouting around unconvincingly, which generated some involuntary chuckles.
The acting is much better this time around, even if a few of the actors are still overacting in their roles. This is especially true of Sarah Voigt and Elliot Fullam, who obtained larger support roles, as Sienna’s mother plus younger brother respectively.
David Howard Thornton is once again magnificent as Art the Clown. His silent performance is what draws major fascination for the character. Since Art is mute, Thornton needs to overdramatically mimic a lot of the reactions, which borders on spoof. Then there is the overly sadistic nature of the diabolical pantomime, contrasting his silly movements or facial grimaces. Now I don’t need a full explanation as to what keeps bringing Art back from the dead, but I would like to have a little explanation as to what motivates him to kill.
Lauren LaVera is stellar as Sienna, the heroic last survivor to confront the deranged jester. She plays her role really good, giving her character more depth. The finale, which was a little too long, gave audiences several amazing sequences that saw her confronting the nightmarish killer in fantasy-like attire, along with delivering powerful battle cries. LaVera did give the overall product more gravitas.
The camera work is brilliant, being one of the better facets of the film! Leone co-operated once again with George Steuber, proving that they are great at understanding cinematography, given the small budget. The lighting of the different settings is on point, the picture has a grindhouse grain, while the colour palette screams eighties-era. Editing was taken care of by the director himself, which shows! It would be wise to employ an editor for the next sequel, as there are a lot of scenes that could have worked with a couple of fewer minutes!
The effects are masterfully crafted! The blood, gore plus body parts, are all practical. The makeup used, just as the prosthetics for mutilations, cuts or severe tissue damage, are convincing. Puppets and animatronics were created for more severe scenes, only then using digital VFX to add facial details of actors to the dummies. As good as the effects are, they can be quite visible at times, especially when textures are ripped or broken into. Nonetheless, it is impressive to still see handmade props of this stature still being made, without resorting to CGI.
The music by Paul Wiley and Rostislav Vaynshtok, has catchy synth wave vibes, underlining the eighties atmosphere, as well as a pulp fantasy mood. A solid addition to the final product.
Verdict: Before I get butchered for the score I am giving this low-budget horror, let me say that I did have fun with Damien Leone’s sequel, of his ultra-savage splatter movie. However, the mythology tried to be set up by the filmmaker, does need to be worked on, to give it more focus and depth. As it stands, audiences are left with too long of a horror picture, that contains some dull segments in between kill scenes. Lauren LaVera is a magnificent addition to the cast, giving a marvellous performance, and David Howard Thornton is once again great as Art. The cinematography as well as the very gory, practical effects are this horror feature’s highlight! Terrifier 2 is certainly better than its predecessor and while not perfect, due to severe pacing issues, I do consider it to be one of the better slashers of the year. All in all, it deserves a 6.5 out of 10.
What are your thoughts on Leone’s newest horror premise? Are you someone who can stomach gore? Leave a comment to let me know & if you like the content, think about subscribing!