Six years after the original Terrifier, the imaginatively named Terrifier 2 has arrived and wastes no time picking up where the first film ended with the resurrected Art the Clown (David Howard Thornton, The Dark Offerings, The Exigency) bludgeoning someone, pausing to rip his eyes out, then going back to killing him ripping his head open and pulling the brain. That’s all before the opening credits and should give you an idea of what to expect for the next two hours and some odd minutes.
After the credits, we meet Sienna (Lauren LaVera, Clinton Road, The Middle of X), her serial killer obsessed little brother Jonathan (Elliot Fullman, Get Rolling with Otis) who wants to dress up as Art for Halloween and their single mom. It isn’t long before Sienna is having nightmares about an Art themed Clown Cafe which means the man himself can’t be far behind.
Art however isn’t quite the same as he was in the previous film. For Terrifier 2 writer/director Damien Leone went back to the shorts that introduced Art and were subsequently combined to make All Hallows Eve. This time around his supernatural nature is fully embraced and he even has a sort of sidekick, a demonic little girl who sometimes dresses in a clown outfit and who, for reasons unexplained, only some people can see.
For Terrifier 2 Leone realized he needed something more than the original’s threadbare plot to hold two-plus hours of carnage together if he didn’t want to end up with the next Murder Set Pieces. So there’s also a subplot involving the kid’s late father, his sketchbook and a magical dagger to explain why Art is targeting them.
Unfortunately, rather than giving the film a sense of demonic evil, it made the proceedings feel like a mid-franchise, Curse of Thorn era Halloween film with the gore dialled up to eleven. And that gore is the main reason this film exists. Honestly, what do you remember from the original? For most people, it’s two things, David Howard Thornton’s great mime work and the hacksaw scene.
Terrifier 2 gives both Thornton and the effects team of Leone, Anthony Giordano (Spider-Man 2, Soul to Keep) and Phil Falcone plenty of chances to show off their talents. The killings, apart from being plentiful and graphic also tend to be sadistic and drawn out. Art prefers to slice, dice, scalp, and/or dismember his victims prior to killing them and the camera catches all of it.
Let me emphasize that, if you’re expecting a routine, if unusually bloody, slasher think again. Terrifier 2 inflicts some long, slow deaths on several likeable characters as well as some random cannon fodder. It’s a lot harder to sit through than something like the latest Scream film. Even if you’ve seen Terrifier, the levels of nastiness here may surprise you.
However, as effective as the individual kills are, Terrifier 2 goes on for way too long and starts to drag. I’ve expressed my opinion of overly long films before and it certainly applies here. Leone was smart enough to keep the original film down to a fast eighty minutes and it worked almost perfectly. Here he just keeps going long after the shock value of the kills has worn off, leaving his continued abuse of a twelve-year-old boy feeling exploitive in the wrong sense of the word.
Trimmed down to an hour and three quarters, Terrifier 2 would have been another triumph. Instead, it overstays its welcome and collapses under its own weight on the way to a final scene and a mid-credits sequence that points towards the Terrifier 3 that Leone has already said would happen. It’s still worth seeing for the things it does right, but Terrifier 2 ends up falling far short of its potential.
Cinedigm will release Terrifier 2 theatrical in the US on October 6th ahead of its debut on the Screambox streaming platform. In the UK, Signature Entertainment will release it on October 24 on Digital HD, DVD and Blu-ray. You can check the film’s Facebook page for more details. And if that hasn’t satisfied your blood thirst, FilmTagger can provide some other titles that might.