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.

David Howard Thornton in white and black clown makeup splattered in bright red blood. Dressed as Art the Clow with a sinister smile, waving hello. Image from Terrfier 2.
David Howard Thornton as Art the Clown waving hello. ‘Terrifier 2’

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.

Laruern LaVera as Sienna Shaw applying gold makeup in streaked pattern across her right eye. Image from Terrifier 2.
Lauren LaVera as Sienna in ‘Terrifier 2’ applying her war paint!

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. Lauren 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. 

Sienna battered mid fight with Art. ‘Terrifier 2’

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 films finale, I found myself infuriated none of the questions presented throughout received any answers.

The Verdict

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. Pre Orders also available for Blu-Ray/DVD on Amazon.com, releasing December 27th.

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

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