Terrifier 2 Review: A Bigger, Weirder, Bloodier Sequel

I won't mince words: the first "Terrifier" is what I'd call "crap." That's not always a bad thing — I like a lot of crap! But not this. While I freely admit the film is loaded with some incredibly practical gore, the movie itself is little more than a plotless, storyless, valueless excuse to showcase that gore and not much else. So when I heard a "Terrifier 2" was on the way, I was wary. But color me surprised: "Terrifier 2" is a huge improvement in nearly every way. Sure, it's still loaded with weaknesses — some truly bad performances keep getting in the way, like luggage we keep tripping over on our way to something better. But with this sequel, writer-director Damien Leone has taken the saga of Art the Clown to a whole new level (what a sentence that is). 

The secret to the success of "Terrifier 2" is that Leone has gone bigger in every way. Clocking in at a whopping 138 minutes, "Terrifier 2" has the filmmaker expanding on the mythology of it all, and going for broke. One of my biggest wishes, when I sit down to watch a new movie, is that the filmmaker will not hold back; that whoever is running this show goes big, and bold, and swings for the fences. And that's exactly what "Terrifier 2" does. 

The best comparison I can think of is Rob Zombie's two "Halloween" films. I found Zombie's first "Halloween" to be odious junk; a pale imitation of John Carpenter's classic film, loaded with some of the worst dialogue ever captured on screen. Then Zombie came back with "Halloween II," and surprised me. Sure, "Halloween II" still has problems (Rob Zombie, please hire someone else to write your movies), but it was also bigger, and weirder, and felt more like its own unique experience. "Terrifier 2" is the "Halloween II" of this series, and it's turned me from an Art the Clown agnostic into a bit of a fan. 

Gore galore, and more

The first "Terrifier" introduced us to Art the Clown (the very committed David Howard Thornton), a malevolent, seemingly immortal serial killer clown who shows up on Halloween to torture and obliterate anyone who gets in his way. And that was it, really! Not much more to say about the film. Art met his apparent demise in the first film, but you can't keep a good killer clown down. Sure enough, he rises from the dead and sets out on another killing spree just in time for Halloween.

This time, Art is after even more fresh meat, including teenager Sienna (Lauren LaVera) and her annoying (and troubled) little brother Jonathan (Elliott Fullam). But Sienna is no normal potential victim. No, she seems to have some sort of psychic connection to Art — and it's all vaguely connected to her dead father. Sienna has an almost comically long nightmare in which she's on the set of a kid's TV show called the Clown Cafe, where, you guessed it, Art shows up — and proceeds to murder everyone via a machine gun. The imagery here is frequently disturbing, including a moment when a woman singing the Clown Cafe theme song is set ablaze — and keeps on strumming her guitar as she burns, and burns, and burns. 

While the overall plotting and storytelling remain simplistic, Leone has a much firmer grasp on tone and atmosphere here, conjuring up gruesome, evocative imagery that has genuine power, in a deranged sort of way. I appreciated the way the filmmaker attempts to build up the mythology of it all; to give Art a worthy adversary, instead of just another screaming girl destined to be hacked and slashed. 

But yes, once again, the gore is massive. Gorehounds will likely have their jaws on the floor at the amount of blood spillage here, all of it created practically. Art the Clown doesn't just kill people, he destroys them, smashing bones, ripping off faces, hurling acid, and more. It's incredibly gruesome while also being almost comical in how over-the-top it all is — there are countless scenes where characters simply stand there, mouths agape, watching as Art performs some wet and gristly task. And then there are victims are who are so cataclysmically destroyed, physically, and yet ... keep living, and screaming, just so Art can continue torturing them. 

You might argue there's no redeeming value to any of this, and I won't fight you on that. And yet, the "everything and the kitchen sink" vibe of the whole thing renders "Terrifier 2" an above-average slasher extravaganza. Watching this gives one the sense that they're watching something new, and that's a feeling you just can't beat. Whatever bloody adventure Art the Clown gets up to next, I'll be sure to watch.

/Film Review: 6 out of 10