Terrifier 2's Lauren LaVera Is A Worthy Addition To The Scream Queen Roster

This article contains major spoilers for "Terrifier 2."

You've all seen the headlines by now. Known as the horror movie responsible for making people faint and even vomit in theaters across the country, "Terrifier 2" has become this surprise unprecedented hit in the world of independent horror. Word of mouth regarding director Damien Leone's unrated splatter flick has quickly spread among gore fiends, in addition to people outside of the horror bubble.

What was initially devised as a one-week theatrical release is now going on week four, as more folks discover the sadistic mayhem of Art the Clown (David Howard Thornton). Where your traditional slashers like Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers will slash and dash you, Art will take his sweet, sweet time. He's a pantomime boogeyman who revels in flaying your body to grotesque lengths, courtesy of the film's jaw-dropping (and jaw-ripping, for that matter) practical makeup effects.

Make no mistake, the gore is appropriately hardcore. "Terrifier 2" is probably the closest you'll come to capturing the grimy and disgusting glee of the grindhouse-era sadism at your local cineplex.

In the midst of all of the reports, however, it feels like there's a crucial component being left out. "Terrifier" was already an indicator that Art would up his gore game, so that's no surprise. But what makes "Terrifier 2" something truly special is Lauren LaVera's central performance.

Lauren LaVera's performance provides an emotional anchor

The appeal of "Terrifier" derives from watching a creepy new slasher villain making himself known to the world through horrific acts of brutality. It features plenty of people for Art to kill, but it's difficult to consider its admittedly game cast as characters you're invested in following. It's largely a demonstration of Leone's stunning makeup, whereas "Terrifier 2" rectifies this with a strong lead performance from LaVera.

Here she plays Sienna, a teenage girl with a bit of a bumpy family life. Her younger brother Jonathan (Elliott Furman) has grown a fascination with Art, otherwise known as the Miles County Killer, and can also see him wherever he goes. Sienna's ill-tempered mother Barbara (Sarah Voigt), on the other hand, seems to have had enough with everything her children have gotten into.

Whenever we're not in Art's destructive hands, Sienna acts as our guide. "Terrifier 2" builds this unspoken tension that Sienna and Art are going to eventually meet, but the film never makes the downtime feel like filler. LaVera imbues a lot of personality into the film's final girl. She shows just how much her family and friends mean to her, while navigating her own repressed childhood trauma.

Even Leone has stated that Sienna is ultimately his favorite aspect of "Terrifier 2."

Warrior Princess of Power

Throughout "Terrifier 2," Sienna can be seen mulling over her warrior princess garb. Her introductory scene shows just how hard she's been working on it. It's a critical component to her character, and although it takes so much damage by the end, she emerges from Art's reign of terror looking cooler than ever. It starts out looking clean, but after she's been covered in copious amounts of dirt, grime, and blood, it appears as if she's emerged from a battlefield in the depths of hell.

To be fair, she pretty much did.

In many ways, it reminds me of the transformation of Samara Weaving's wedding dress in "Ready or Not." The costume appears to be a blend of an angel and something out of "Xena." Sienna even goes the extra mile to add some glimmering battle scars across her eye. Much like Art, it's a standout costume that gives LaVera's final girl a distinct and memorable identity that you'll remember long after the movie's over.

What's even cooler is that it will likely inspire cosplayers, in addition to a new Halloween costume for folks to make their own version of. Dressing up as horror characters is a great honor, after all.

An unfortunate family connection

A good portion of "Terrifier 2" stresses the importance of Sienna's father and the role he has to play in all of this. We never see him, but it's heavily implied that he's tied to Art the Clown. He possesses a notebook that contains articles about the Miles County Killer's slayings, in addition to sketches of him.

Even Sienna's warrior princess costume was a design her father left behind, which would inspire his daughter to be this thoughtful protector against this great evil. He even left behind a sword that carries the mystical abilities to deflect fire, repair her wounds, and decapitate Art in his tracks.

We're told at first that he died from a brain tumor, but it isn't until much later that Sienna's molly-spiking friend Brooke (Kailey Hyman) lets us know that her dad was abusive toward her. He saw visions of something enigmatic, and ultimately took it out on his family, before dying in a fiery car explosion of his own making.

In not showing what Sienna's father looks like, it only leads me to believe that Art is an extension of her father in some way, especially since he seems to know about her prior to their first meeting. The hilariously demented "Clown Cafe" sequence itself plays like Sienna trapped in a colorful bouncy house of her unconfronted childhood trauma.

But after everything Art has done to her family and friends, LaVera is given the opportunity to get down and dirty with her vengeance against the clown that ruined her life.

The perfect catharsis to Art's sadistic murder spree

"Terrifier 2" is a 2 ½ hour slasher flick, which itself is unheard of. The epic runtime gives you access to so much carnage that, when Sienna decides enough is enough, the catharsis is more than earned.

How the cheers came loud and strong when Sienna finally gave Art a taste of his own brutal medicine. Leone spends so much time showing just how much of brute force Art is when he's in his bloody element, so when a game LaVera imbues Sienna with this "okay, you're dying right here, right now" mentality, it's glorious. Seeing her decapitate Art with such ferocity gave me the same amount of elation that came with Laurie Strode taking a well-earned jab at Michael Myers.

It also helps that the finale of "Terrifier 2" takes place in one of the coolest movie haunted house attractions I've ever seen.

When you take into account everything this character has been through, by the time we reach the climax, it's clear that LaVera is giving the kind of performance that turns traditional horror characters into Scream Queens.

Sienna lives to slay Art another day

"Terrifier" appears to prop up Jenna Kanell's Tara as the film's ultimate survivor, but about halfway into the film, Art hilariously plays dirty, and takes her out with a gun tucked away in his leg holster. Besides Samantha Scaffidi's Victoria, who does make an appearance in an appropriately disgusting mid-credits scene, there's no real character connective tissue from that film going into "Terrifier 2."

With Sienna, however, there's plenty more to explore with this character. By the film's end, she has beaten the odds against an absolute monster. Art has been vanquished, but the chilling Little Pale Girl (Amelie McLain) seems to have plans for the demon clown's decapitated melon. There are also all of these loose ends regarding Sienna's father and how he came into possession of the mystical sword.

Leone has mentioned before that he still has a lot left to explore with Art in the all-but-confirmed "Terrifier 3." If the family connection is as strong as this sequel makes it out to be, then Sienna is the perfect character to bring back for another installment. She is arguably as important to this franchise as Art is. LaVera makes a hell of a horror debut here, and I'm excited to see where her character is taken next.

"Terrifier 2" is now playing in select theaters nationwide, before making its streaming debut on Screambox on October 31, 2022.