Terrifier 2 (2022) Review: A piece of Art.

Alright, after 2016’s Terrifier left me feeling pretty lukewarm, and the press surrounding the sequel was bad and annoying, I had pretty low expectations for the crowd-funded follow up. Add to that an eye-watering run time* (* for a movie like this) – at nearly two and a half hours – and I had some… concerns. Honestly, the red flags really do abound with this one. So, did I throw up and faint and feel deeply scandalized and traumatized? Is Art a new horror icon? Is the genre too gross? Lets find out, shall we?

To answer those questions first, in order, No, maybe, and no. Lets start with the negatives, because they do exist and I think it’s worth talking about. The first problem is the run time, look, as much fun as I had watching this movie, it’s too fucking long. It absolutely doesn’t have the same issues with pacing as the first, the pace is a bit better, but it does go on too long and spends a lot of time on lore that it never really pays off. If you had excised the dream sequences you likely wouldn’t have missed out on much, for example, but I get the sense that they were an idea for a short film that just got spliced into this one. They are definitely sequences but they don’t do a huge amount in main story, or if it does it goes over my head and doesn’t actually get resolved.

The star of the show, again, is David Howard Thorton as Art the Clown. The performance is solid, if maybe a bit tired because I watched them back to back essentially. He made me laugh on more than one occasion, particularly his scenes in the Halloween store are genuinely fun and bizarre. The rest of the cast is stronger here too, Lauren LaVera is great as Sienna. Her performance is a bit uneven, but honestly she really brings it in some very challenging scenes. It is absolutely clear that everyone is game for this and that goes a long way.

The reason, of course, that everyone is talking about this movie has to come back to the practical effects – which are on a whole other level this time around. The money the crowd funding made absolutely was well spent because there are some excellent effects throughout. Nothing so dIsgUsTiNg that I felt ill or anything, but it really cranks things up. Which absolutely is what needed to happen to make this superior to the original. One in particular that comes to mind has to be one of the dead characters in the bed, who I think is part stop motion, part puppet, and part the actress and it is genuinely a great, gross gag.

Something that feels worth mentioning here is a bit of respect paid to something that Terrifier does, or rather doesn’t do. A standard, and extremely off putting, trope of schlock movies like this is sexual violence; and Terrifier doesn’t do it at all, despite being a pretty shocking and violent thing, it never crosses that line and honestly, it makes the whole affair seem more mature and I give it a whole lot of credit for that. The reliance on rape as a plot device or a means of shocking is one of my least favourite things about movies that are almost exactly like this series, and this one really shows that its a lazy fucking crutch that we don’t need to do anymore.

This is, by a pretty wide margin, a better movie that the original, and I think that is going to actually kind of make it worse for some folks. There is a story that is being, at least, attempted, and while I’m not convinced it actually comes together I will give it extreme bonus points for an absolutely wild post-mid-credit sequence that proved all of my predictions wrong and redundant.  If this upward trend continues, then I will expect some good things from the next one.

On an unrelated note, I just heard that David Howard Thorton will be donning the green furry mantel of the fucking Grinch in The Mean One, which… is going to be a weird thing that shouldn’t exist but I’m probably going to watch it anyways.

Terrifier 2, I must extremely begrudgingly say is great, and one of my favourite horror movies of 2022. Which is so annoying and I hate it. But I did love this movie. So.



Terrifier (2016) Review: More like Pennydumb…right? Does that track?

This review contains spoilers for Terrifier (2016)

Alright, well, with Terrifier 2 making headlines for making people faint and throw up and being just the most fUcKeD uP moViE of AlL tIMe – I thought it was high time that I got around to watching the first one. I remember, vaguely, Art the Clown’s arrival in the basically ok All Hallows’ Eve, but this one completely passed me by. So, how was this one? Has my life been forever changed by the most edgy fucked up movie of a generation?

The short answer is … no. Obviously not.

Running at 88 minutes, Terrifier somehow manages to feel too long, with so much meandering and cat and mouse and completely superfluous characters who take FOREVER to die. Look, I understand that this is supposed to be a dumb, gory, 80s throwback slasher and looking into the story in any meaningful way is a pointless exercise but the movie needed to push harder than it did. It doesn’t go far enough with the gore and kills to justify being quite this lazy with the story. It kind of tries to have it both ways?

So, lets talk about the reason to watch this movie, because despite it being too long, I think I actually kind of loved parts of it. The main reason to watch it is, surprising no one, Art the Clown. David Howard Thorton is genuinely good in this role, his performance is creepy and consistent and, occasionally, genuinely funny. He really commits to the role, and it works. His design is great too, the make up is really effective, with enough nooks and cranny to make it terrifying under the right lighting, and harmless under the right light. Writer/Director Damien Leone absolutely has a winner on his hands with Art, and I absolutely understand why people have responded to the character so well.

The other thing that the movie gets so much love for seems to be the practical effects, and I’m going to try to separate my feelings about the effects in this one with the effects in the sequel, so bear with me. I love practical effects and wet puppets, I don’t need realistic gore, the less real the better honestly, no one needs to know what it actually looks like when someone gets their head crushed, so lets up the gore and go way over the top. Terrifier does a pretty good job with this line, and in general the thing is effectively silly, and most of the gore gags are a lot of fun. They just get a bit few and far between and the thing really drags in the middle when it could be smashing.

Perhaps the biggest surprise for me was the movie is genuinely funny, and makes a couple of jokes that were extremely smart and showed a real love for the genre. Which kind of makes the script being just so-so all the more disappointing, because the moments where it really works are so good. There are two moments in particular that I want to highlight and give credit for, the first is the first time Art just uses a gun. The moment is so well set up and got a genuine laugh out of me. It’s absolutely a question we’ve all asked “Why don’t they just use a gun?” – and it really hits right. The other comes closer to the end, when a character inexplicably goes back into the scary building even though there are vehicles outside, and then Art drives the truck back into the building and into the character. There are more moments that are funny, but truly those two are exceptionally funny.

It’s clear that I have complicated feelings about this one. I had fun, sometimes, and was bored more often than it was fun, unfortunately. The pacing isn’t great, and the characters make absolutely irredeemably bad decisions (WHY DID YOU GO BACK IN THE BUILDING???), but Art really does hold the whole thing together and it really does work. I wasn’t repulsed or offended, and I was kind of hoping for a bit more edge. It kind of ends up being a just-ok slasher flick that never quite takes the joke as far as it should and it suffers for that.