Don’t walk, RUN to Art’s Clown Cafe!
In 2016, the ultra-gore horror film ‘Terrifier’ was unleashed upon the world, ushering in one of horror’s most eccentric and violent slashers in recent memory. Met with mixed reviews upon its release, the film’s explicit homage to late 70’s – 80’s grindhouse horror and brutal kills, coupled with the gory practical effects, garnered enough praise from fans to fully crowd fund a sequel. Thus, after a 6-year hiatus, Art the Clown makes his frightful return in writer/director ‘Damien Leones’ Terrifier 2’. With an added plot, double the kills, and the genre’s newest ultimate final girl; Leone improves on the faults from his predecessor in nearly every way.
Picking up immediately where ‘Terrifier’ ends, Leone wastes no time thrusting the viewer into Art’s (reprised by David Howard Thornton) world of extreme violence, as the first on screen-kill to a lone coroner happens within mere minutes of the film’s opening sequence. Following a bloody escape and friendly detour at a local dry cleaner, we meet Art’s creepy new “imaginary” friend simply named The Little Pale Girl (Amelie McLain). Cut to one year later, we are introduced to final girl, Sienna Shaw (played by Lauren LaVera), her little brother Jonathan (played by Elliot Fullam) and their emotionally strained mother Barbara (Sarah Voight).
Following a late night applying the finishing touches on a Valkyrie costume inspired by her late father, Sienna has a vivid dream in which she’s transported to a local children’s show plucked straight from the 90’s. It’s here our heroine has her first encounter with the Miles County killer clown. After narrowly waking from her nightmare, the plot then follows Sienna and her friends Allie (Casey Hartnett) and Brooke (Kailey Hyman) as they attempt to rescue Jonathan from Art and his demonic companion, all while trying to survive the hellish night themselves.
Continuing the brutality of the first film, the kill count for ‘Terrifier 2’ is much larger and gruesome this second coming. Equipped with a ranging arsenal of weapons including rusted knives, tools, and a crudely altered cat-o-nine tails whip; Art has plenty of perverse methods tucked in his dingy garbage bag to dispose of his victims. It’s apparent more time and money went into the creativity of the sequel’s kills, as the practical effects are on full display, the camera rarely flinching away from the numerous bodily dismemberments. The deaths feel much more grandiose in scale and execution. To my surprise, they were able to best the infamous hacksaw death from the first film, in a scene that can only be described as stomach curdling.
The real standout of ‘Terrifier 2’ is the emotional attachment we develop with the films main character. LaVera completely radiates as final girl Sienna. We watch as her character grows from a frightful teen to a Valkyrie of strength, acting as the perfect counterbalance to Arts’ maniacal personality. I found myself vocally cheering for Sienna any time she got the upper hand over the titular clown. David Howard Thornton makes his triumphant return as Art the Clown, bringing just as much ferocity to the role as his previous outing. Thornton further explores Art’s depraved sense of humor with even more animated gestures and silliness this time around, giving the character an outlandishly cartoon personality. I guarantee, his smile will haunt your dreams.
With as much time as Leone spends developing his leads, it’s upsetting his supporting characters lack the same attention. Rather than explore these relationships further, he instead appeases the fans with elongated death scenes and a third act that becomes a bit repetitive. Running at a lengthy 148 minutes, the pacing for ‘Terrifier 2’ stumbles as Leone can’t quite seem to find any clear cohesion between the film’s multiple subplots and new supernatural themes. One of the more confusing elements added to the plot involved Art the Clown’s freshly acquired immortality and psychic connection with Sienna. By the film’s finale, I found myself infuriated none of the questions presented throughout received any answers.
Above all, in spite of its’ struggles to merge the multiple subplots and added elements gracefully into the main story, ‘Terrifier 2’ is an unwavering symphony of visceral slaughter. With enough carnage candy that will satisfy any gore hound, a kick-ass synth soundtrack, and Thornton and LaVera serving as the films highlights; both wholly solidifying their characters amongst horror’s elites. ‘Terrifier 2’ is a beautiful homage to the splatter house films that came before it, any slasher connoisseur will love and appreciate.
‘Terrifier 2’ is now available to rent/own digitally on VOD platforms and streaming exclusively on Screambox. You can also purchase your physical Blu-ray/DVD copy of ‘Terrifier 2’ now available on Amazon.com. (3.5 / 5)
Cadaver (2020), a Film Review
Cadaver (2020) is a Norwegian post-apocalyptic thriller directed by Jarand Herdal and currently available on Netflix.
Cadaver (2020) is a Norwegian post-apocalyptic thriller directed by Jarand Herdal. This unrated film stars Thorbjørn Harr, Gitte Witt, and Thomas Gullestad. As of this review, the film is available on Netflix.
After an apocalyptic event, the survivors endure in a hopeless world. Among these survivors are Leonora (Gitte Witt), Jacob (Thomas Gullestad), and Alice (Tuva Olivia Remman), a family fighting the hopelessness of a lost world. Leonora desires to keep her daughter (Alice) hopeful, and when a theater opens in their decrepit city, she thinks she has found the solution to their despair. However, they will all soon learn how desperate people have become.
What I Like from Cadaver
Cadaver takes on a unique focus for a post-apocalyptic movie. While most in the genre tackle the question of where you find hope, the theatrical lens is not one I’ve seen before. It blends these two unique environments together for a pleasant concoction. As a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre, I must admit I find my niche in the everyday lives of someone in such a world.
Leonora’s (usually called Leo in the film) dreamer nature in this horrendously hopeless environment creates a sympathetic contrast. This dreamer nature doesn’t excuse some of her choices, but she evokes sympathy. While most post-apocalyptic entries provide this balance of hope and survival, Leo’s creativity and passion for the arts give her hope and a more focused ideal.
The relationship between Leo and her husband also creates a nice contrast, as Jacob plays the rationalist and survivor. In this decision, both characters provide that post-apocalyptic dynamic of survival and hope. These interactions allow both actors opportunities to create friction as they pull the plot from their differing perspectives.
I had the chance to listen to the dubbed version, which sounds good. I’m not much for dubs, especially on Netflix, but they did Cadaver with respect and a focus on quality. At the very least, it’s competent and doesn’t distract from the viewing experience.
Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings
As hinted at earlier, there are some dumb decisions in the plot. While many fall within character traits, the actions don’t escape criticism. This flaw becomes incredibly repetitive when characters make the same mistake.
Implied suicide occurs throughout the film with one shown incident, but there are circumstances that change the context slightly. A world this bleak invites this depressive and dangerous state as a normality. However, one should prepare if this is a trigger.
What I Dislike or Considerations for Cadaver
Again, some decisions had me roll my eyes and endure the plot. This reaction isn’t exactly the experience I seek out in my horror. It’s more haunting to make sensible, or even intelligent, decisions and still endure unavoidable or unforeseen consequences.
It’s likely that nothing in Cadaver surprises you, which underutilizes the interesting premise. There are unique elements, certainly, but never a twist I didn’t see coming. It’s in that execution that Cadaver falls flat and fails to engage a viewer.
The film doesn’t exactly haunt the viewer, but the bleak world effectively depicts the hopelessness of a post-apocalypse. Don’t expect much genuine horror, but you can expect an appropriately uncomfortable and unnerving experience. In short, viewers of Cadaver likely want a unique twist in their post-apocalypse, not a traumatic horror.
Cadaver remains a unique viewing experience by adding a slight twist to its post-apocalyptic story. While not a haunting masterpiece, this bleak film will have you feeling the characters’ struggle. While lacking sensible decision-making skills, they are certainly sympathetic survivors struggling in a hopeless world. If this is your niche, it’s certainly worth a view.
(3 / 5)
Wheel of Time, What Might Be
Episode three of Wheel of Time was easily my favorite so far. It’s dramatic, dark, and speaks to the growing concerns about evil invading the world.
Let’s begin with Nynaeve. After showing little to no progress, Liandrin thinks she’s ready to go through the Trial of The Arches. This is an initiation that all Aes Sedai have to go through to become a sister. It’s dangerous, not totally understood, and doesn’t have a great survival rate.
One would think some cooler heads would prevail and not let the very new person do this so early. Especially since Nynaeve seems to have some issues with impulse control.
But she goes into the trial, seeing first a scene from her childhood where her parents are attacked.
The point is to walk back through the arches, leaving her family behind. This she does, but doesn’t look very happy about it. Her second trial involves finding herself back in Two Rivers, where a horrible plague has ripped through the people. Again, she has to walk away from the people that she cares about and come back to reality.
The third test is a little more tricky. It appears that Nynaeve comes back covered in blood, with no memories of what happened.
Terrified, she runs from the castle only to find Lan waiting for her.
In the real world, where Liandrin and the others are waiting for her, she simply never returns.
This shakes Liandrin. She decides she’s done holding Mat against his will, and lets him leave. Excited, but also smelling a trap, he takes Min with him.
Still not sure why she had him to start with, but I guess it’s cool that she let him go.
Meanwhile, Rand is working with a familiar face at his hospital. It’s Logain, who we might remember as the false dragon from season one.
Rand would love some advice about channeling as a man. But it appears that Logain might really have lost his mind.
My favorite scene in the episode was the one involving Perrin and Lady Suroth. This scene was perfect.
First off, the character design for Lady Suroth was just perfect. Without moving more than a hand and the crook of her mouth, she manages to be terrifying.
The massively scary nails help, as does the headdress that is both beautiful and reminiscent of an insect. The sort of insect that seems likely to bite and lay eggs under the skin of a victim.
Her absolute authority was terrifying. Uno certainly learned that.
What was more scary, of course, was who was standing next to her. Does she think she’s the one in charge? Or is she perfectly clear on where stands?
What didn’t work
One thing that I don’t love about this season is, unfortunately, not likely to change. It’s true in the books, and it’s true in the show.
The ensemble cast structure doesn’t work for me.
It fractures the story in too many directions. It’s too busy, there’s too much going on. At the same time, there isn’t enough going on with individual characters for me to establish an interest in all of them.
I care what’s happening with Egwene and Nynaeve. I care what’s happening with Perrin.
I don’t care as much about Rand right now. And she wasn’t as involved in this episode, but I don’t care about what Moiraine is going through either.
That could be because the world is coming to an end and they’re refusing to be team players. But maybe that’s just me.
Overall, this was a fun episode. It feels like pieces are being put into place. The characters are getting ready for something big. Something that we can only see the beginnings of.
Something that they clearly don’t think they’re ready for.(3.5 / 5)
American Horror Story Delicate, Multiply Thy Pain
American Horror Story Delicate began last night, Killer Queens. And it was, well, a complicated episode. This makes sense because this season is about a complicated topic.
Just in case you didn’t know, this whole season is based on the novel Delicate Condition by Danielle Valentine. If you haven’t read it yet, you should.
Anna Victoria Alcott is an actress who just got her big break. She was in a horror movie that no one can stop talking about.
Except Anna herself. Because this career success couldn’t have come at a worse time. She and her husband Dex are in the middle of the difficult IVF process. It’s expensive, time-consuming and painful. Ironically, so is trying to win an Oscar.
But Anna has other things to worry about. Someone is messing with her. Several women are watching her in public. Worse, someone appears to be getting into her home, slashing notes she leaves for Dex, and removing her vital IVF medication from the fridge so it spoils. Her calendar is hacked to move her doctor appointments around so she misses them. Worst of all, someone broke into her home and crawled into bed with her.
Of course, no one takes any of these concerns seriously. Her agent, Siobhan, is focusing on getting her an Oscar. Her husband, Dex, doesn’t seem to give a shit about her except for when it comes to having a baby. He’s frequently dismissive of her concerns and only seems to want her around when it’s convenient for him. He goes so far as to kick her out of his show opening because she’s on edge.
You know, maybe because she’s clearly being stalked by someone who is trying to keep her from having a baby.
AHS Asylum had a lot of dark and important things to say about mental health care in America. AHS Coven had a lot of dark and important things to say about race and gender relationships.
Last season, AHS NYC wasn’t so subtle. Yes, there was a killer. But the real historical horror of the AIDs epidemic in the 80s was the focus of the season. And that worked very well.
This season, the story is clearly about female body autonomy. Anna is a woman struggling with so many issues that modern women face. The balance between our careers and our families. Feeling like growing old is the most unforgivable thing a woman can do. And of course, the fact that our bodies often feel like they don’t belong to us.
I was also pleased to see some AHS alumni. Denis O’Hare as Dr. Hill was delightful. Leslie Grossman and Billie Lourd will be involved soon, and they never bring anything less than their A-game.
This episode also did something I never thought could happen. It managed to scare me with a calendar notification. That was a special moment for me as a horror fan and calendar-obsessed person.
What didn’t work
Here are some things I didn’t love. First off, the main character Anna is a pushover. She can’t say no to Dex, Talia, Dr. Hill, or Siobhan. No one gets a no from this woman!
Anna didn’t act like that in the book. She stood up to everyone all the time, it was great. She wasn’t getting any support, but she was advocating for herself! That was such an important part of her character, and I’m sad to see that she’s lost that here.
I also hate the changes made to Siobhan and Talia. Now, please understand that this isn’t me complaining that the book was different. That’s not my point. Siobhan was a kind, loving woman who supported her best friend even while dying of cancer. Talia was a smart, business-oriented woman who was still kind. She was trying to start a family with her transgender husband, and bonded with Anna over their IVF journeys. These were vital characters in the story.
I feel like they’ve been railroaded.
All that being said, this was a decent start to AHS Delicate. It’s not the best start of a season we’ve had. But it’s okay. I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the season is going to bring. (4 / 5)