Ever since Stephen King’s “It”, clowns have been a staple of creepy horror villains, but none are quite as unsettling (or at times hilarious) as Art. First debuting in a short film, which was later edited into the original Terrifier anthology film, Art has had quite the cinematic journey. Terrifier 2 remains his largest scale, and most ambitious endeavor yet. And for those who love how brutal its predecessor was, they won’t be disappointed!
Back From the Dead
The film picks up literal seconds after the end of the first Terrifier, which sees Art the Clown coming back to life in the morgue. He then proceeds to clean his suit in a pretty hilarious scene, all while interacting with a little girl dressed like him, that not everyone can see.
Once Art is all cleaned up, he moves on in his typical creepy fashion. Just then, we jump ahead a year later and are introduced to siblings Sienna (Lauren LaVera) and Jonathan (Elliot Fullam). Both still reeling from their father’s death, and dealing with a highly stressed and grieving single mother, both seek to make the most of Halloween.
Sienna has spent months making a costume based on a drawing her father made years earlier, while Jonathan concerns both his sister and mother with his fascination with Art the clown. Both Sienna and Jonathan are plagued with visions of Art throughout the day, leading to a Halloween night filled with chaos and terror.
Let’s be honest, the real reason most of us are seeing this film isn’t for the plot or story. Admittedly, its nearly 2.5 hour runtime does drag a bit, particularly in the first act. The entire first hour or so could probably be reduced to maybe about 20 minutes, shaving the runtime closer to 90 minutes. But again, pacing and plot were never the original Terrifier’s strength or purpose for that matter.
To simply call this film gory is a gross understatement. Its kills range from creatively disgusting to sadistically destructive. Writer/Director Damien Leone comes from a special effects background, and it very much shows. One kill in particular took a week to shoot. And when filming was delayed due to COVID, Leone took time to build more prosthetics to make it even more gruesome.
The kills are numerous, creative, just gleefully grotesque. These films are certainly not for the faint of heart, or even those casual horror fans just looking for something spooky. There’s an almost hypnotic quality to Art the Clown, something which actor David Howard Thornton masterfully brings to the role.
Like Michael Myers or Jason Vorhees, Art remains completely silent, but unlike them his face is incredibly expressive and it’s very much what makes the role. We’ve seen gruesome gore in film series like Saw or Hostel, but here we have Art with a wide smile, silently laughing his ass off as he does these horrific things. It’s almost as if he’s aware there’s an audience watching him through the fourth wall and he’s playing to them (or us).
The previous film wasn’t one for larger ideas or themes, but Terrifier 2 takes that and runs with it into fascinating territory. There’s an entire subplot about how Art may be more than just a simple homicidal clown. The inclusion of the little girl that looks like him (along with his resurrection) suggests that there’s an entire mythos to him we don’t fully understand yet. Sienna too, occupies some seemingly predestined role.
Damien Leone is clearly building towards something with a potential third film. Although it does beg the question of whether or not such a mythology is needed, or where it could go. As it stands now, the movie gets a free pass on some of the plot/pacing issues because we clearly see its intention is to disgust via the bloody violence.
But the second these films try to do more, they fall under much more scrutiny. In a lot of ways, it feels like Rob Zombie’s Halloween II. Both are sequels that went far into trippy, surreal territory. Much like Zombie, Damien Leone was at his most uninhibited here. It will be fascinating to see where he takes his beloved character Art, but at the end of the day, it was the simplistic grittiness that we all loved Terrifier for…
What did you think of Terrifier 2? How did it compare to the original for you? Let us know in the comments!