Director: Damian Leone
Starring: Lauren LaVera, Elliott Fullam, Sarah Voigt, Kailey Hyman, Casey Hartnett, David Howard Thornton
Run Time: 138 mins
Terrifier 2 is the third feature length film to feature the blood-soaked, havoc-wreaking Art the Clown. Once again directed by Damian Leone, this sequel picks up immediately where 2016’s Terrifier finishes. The clown also features in Leone’s debut anthology film All Hallow’s Eve, which I found a mixed bag although not without some fascinating ideas. Terrifier was a properly grisly slasher with many memorable slayings, although the film was predominantly confined to two locations and received criticism for its lack of story.
Leone has clearly taken this feedback on board and Terrifier 2 is a slasher epic running 138 minutes. The film introduces a new protagonist, Sienna Shaw (Lauren LaVera), a teenager who is busy crafting a Halloween costume that was designed by her recently deceased father. She lives with her insurance adviser mother, Barbara (Sarah Voigt) and quirky brother, Jonathan (Elliott Fullam), who has a habit of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
When Sienna dreams of Art the Clown in her sleep and a fire ensues in her bedroom, she becomes convinced that the two are destined to cross paths and she tries to escape her fate and protect what she has left of her family.
Terrifier 2 has received a fair amount of media attention for its gory murders, with reports of some viewers vomiting and fainting. The first film had its fair share of gruesome killings, most infamously an extended sequence where a character is sawn in half.
Not only does Terrifier 2 lives up to its gory hype but Leone has also crafted a gleefully riveting and original horror epic. Leone has demonstrably grown as a filmmaker and although there are some holes in the narrative, the time taken to develop the characters is a welcome one and sets the stage for events to unfold.
I particularly appreciated the hallucinatory, dream-like elements, which afford a tangible scope to the story. The practical effects and make-up are brilliant and although it’s a bloody film, there is a sardonic edge to the kills. Terrifier 2 reaches creaky territory in its conclusion, where it starts to introduce some fantastical elements. While I got on board with it and appreciated the over-the-top execution, others understandably won’t.
The cast are uniformly excellent, with Lauren LaVera proving a commanding screen presence, injecting much-needed humanity with a ‘final girl’ quality. She is surely destined to receive inundations of role offers following her work here. David Howard Thornton is, once again, endlessly expressive as the demonic clown. He is particularly depraved this time around, covered in blood throughout most of the run time and isn’t satisfied with simply ending someone’s life – he then likes to go on to eat or play with body parts. Art the Clown is joined by The Little Pale Girl in this film, who he initially seems to hallucinate but becomes more and more real as the film progresses.
Of the rest of the cast, Elliot Fullam makes a strong impression as the misunderstood brother. Casey Hartnett is also brilliant as the charismatic Allie, one of Sienna’s best friends. Sarah Voigt is fine as the mother, although there are some scenes where she has to discipline her children where her delivery is hammy.
In keeping with his work on the original, Paul Wiley’s score is once again excellent. George Steuber’s cinematography is brilliant and he crafts some genuinely haunting images of Art the Clown. Many have labelled the film as on the indulgent side and while it could be cut down further to service the story, the long edits of each scene allow the striking visuals to shine.
Terrifier 2 is an excellent slasher that outdoes its predecessor in pretty much every single way, other than the gnarliest kill which I think still belongs to the first film. It’s superbly directed, the increased character development compliments the gore and Leone crafts some arresting images. If Leone proceeds with a Terrifier 3, which an ambitious mid-credits scene alludes to, he has his work cut out to create a sequel that can better this.