The Austin Chronicle

https://www.austinchronicle.com/events/film/2022-10-07/terrifier-2/

Terrifier 2

Not rated, 148 min. Directed by Damien Leone. Starring David Howard Thornton, Lauren LaVera, Elliott Fullam, Griffin Santopietro, Felissa Rose, Chris Jericho.

REVIEWED By Trace Sauveur, Fri., Oct. 7, 2022

Gore hounds’ favorite sadistic serial-killing clown, Art (Thornton), is back six years after creator/director Damien Leone’s initial franchise starter for his original bloodthirsty killing machine, and this time there’s truly no stopping him.

The original Terrifier was impressively gory but fairly dull, even at 80 minutes. Terrifier 2 is showing up to the scene at a truly epic length of nearly 2½ hours, and with extra blood buckets to spare.

That long of a run time calls for a more involved story than simply relying on Art’s nightlong rampage to carry the action, which comes in the form of two siblings: high schooler Sienna (LaVera) and younger brother Jonathan (Fullam). At-home familial problems and historic trauma from the loss of their father soon manifest themselves in a night of chaos and bloodshed as they’re targeted by Art himself – on Halloween no less. And this time he has a creepy little girl clown counterpart. As if things couldn’t get worse.

The addition of protagonists to actually stick with and root for (even if the overall character work and story are admittedly thin) makes this entry run so much smoother than the previous, even at twice the length. The visual language of the series hasn’t changed much, still relying on some fairly unimaginative camera work and the ability to ape the slasher vibe of years past, but the stuff you actually come to this movie for is here in spades: This is one violent movie. The production design and practical gore effects are wonderfully savage, and there’s a bloodlust you’d be hard-pressed to find in a lot of other current horror. Art’s victims don’t so much have to worry about a slit throat as they do gouged eyeballs, decapitations, and removed appendages – among other, erm, creative mutilations you’re best off seeing for yourself. There’s one particular extended scene of brutality here that almost makes the infamous hacksaw murder from the first film look quaint.

Of course that brings us to Art himself, Thornton completely owning this role that has become his and his alone. All it takes is one scene of watching his sense of physicality and comic timing to realize why Art has become a slasher icon in his own cult circles. He switches his face from viciously gleeful to exasperated and laughably impatient on a dime. He moves around the room like he’s about to perform a slapstick gag. He’s like the most homicidal Looney Tunes character you’ll ever see, and that’s saying something. The script expands the scope of his character, positioning him as some potentially supernatural or cosmic being, but always letting him be the main event without getting too caught up with the lore.

Does all this justify the truly immense run time? I’m not so convinced. But it’s hard not to admire a filmmaking team asking you to endure such a prolonged amount of ruthless, blood-splattering bad taste. It indulges in all of its innate, nasty impulses, and then just keeps going (… and going …). Get together with a group of the rowdiest genre freaks you can find and go nuts.

Read our interview with director Damien Leone, "How Art the Clown Became a Horror Icon," Sept. 23, at austinchronicle.com/fantastic-fest.

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