This is an advanced review of Fantastic Fest, where Terrifier 2 made its world premiere. It will hit theaters on October 6, 2022.
Damien Leone’s highly-anticipated Terrifier 2 is a tremendous improvement over the original Terrifier, which only kills and contains no substances, which introduced new celebrity slasher Art the Clown (David Howard Thornton). Leone’s symphony of bodily destruction features superb practical death sequences; as a bonus, this time there is a semblance of narration. It’s still riddled with subplots and underdeveloped themes, but Leone adheres better to traditional slasher formulas with an empowered finale girl and the motivations behind Art’s disgusting slaughter. low-budget but hyper-disgusting, and Terrifier 2 doesn’t disappoint (full-view beheadings, bones snapping like twigs, sticky dismemberment). uses the film’s two-plus hour runtime with so much leftover ambiguity.
Terrifier 2 follows recognizable slasher sequel molds, given that Art’s resurrection is not mentioned outside of the film’s plot synopsis. Art is back for another Miles County Halloween massacre…because why not? Sibling duo Sienna (Lauren LaVera) and Jonathan (Elliott Fullam) attract Art’s attention, possibly due to their late father’s ominous sketchbook filled with Art’s monochrome portraiture and haunting traces of Art’s original victims. ride is a “Demon Girl” dressed as Art’s mini-her, dressed in black and white, rotten to the teeth, and made up like Art. Somehow, Leone tries to force all these supernatural elements together without perfection, unlike the blood splattered every time Art opens his garbage bag of murder weapons.
Leone’s growth as a writer between Terrifier and this follow-up is a marked improvement, but overall cohesion is still lacking. Terrifier 2 takes the “Jason fights a telepath” gonzo approach to the sequel’s narrative by introducing Art’s jumping accomplice or Sienna’s comic book heroism, only to run similar explanations that disappeared during post-production. Art’s resurrection is basically a marketing tagline, some characters get to see Demon Girl while others don’t, and Sienna’s spiritual connection to her father’s fictional character in a possibly magical sketchbook has a matching energy of ” Go ahead, brother.” Terrifier 2 goes off the rails in ways other franchises don’t find until entry four (Leprechaun), five (Child’s Play) or seven (Friday the 13th), and that’s not always a good thing when the sparse script stands out. At 138 minutes, it would mean that Leone would have plenty of time to richly explore mythology that would otherwise remain forgotten.
Did he say that? I contradict myself. Terrifier became an overnight sensation based on Art’s nightmare-scorched smile, his competition for iconic slasher status through coulrophobia, and the vile havoc of Halloween. In that sense, Terrifier 2 doubles down on the legend of Art and the sensational death sequences.
Art may be mute, but his manic personality becomes even stronger in Terrifier 2. David Howard Thornton has been given more opportunities than to laugh quietly like a creepy carnival sideshow as they desecrate the bodies of victims. Art’s company with his strange, possibly ghostly, tagalong is despicably sweet as they play Patty Cake. Thornton brings in more physical humor, like his cartoonishly wacky dive from behind the tall steps or the vertigo while trying on flower-petal sunglasses (before pulverizing a cashier). Art takes substantial steps closer to Freddy Krueger comparisons, just without pun-fueled dialogue. Leone takes a close second to October’s cult favorite, Satan’s Little Helper, in terms of the ultimate Halloween prank gone berserk by a horror monster. We have very few contemporary slasher icons outside of the likes of Adam Green’s villain Hatchet, Victor Crowley, or the fear street Crew: Thorton and Leone take considerable steps to secure Art’s legacy.
Terrifier 2 slathers sets up stylish buffets of no-brain gore reminiscent of the silliest Midnighters of the ’70s and ’80s that have withstood their respective tests of time. Leone’s confidence when filming Art’s heinous acts of inhumanity never stops the camera lens from passing through the prosthetic necks that sprout gelatinous from within as if unblocking a dam. Every kill goes 70 delusional steps too far: Art’s style can’t just be a pathetic stab wound. Shotguns lop off heads and send them hurtling through the garage walls like a basketball, and makeshift maces pound chests open so Art can reach out and bite into his victim’s heart. An endless running sequence in the bedroom recalls everything from scream 4 to Hellraiser to 3d piranha in terms of excessive blood, sinking into a crimson pit that never dries up. Terrifier 2 offers the best kill-for-money count of any slasher to come out in longer than I can remember – Leone’s special effects team deserve all the praise that comes their way.
That’s what makes Terrifier 2 so hard to fault. Lauren LaVera rules as Sienna in her angel-winged fantasy armor as a final girl fighting for family, facing her demons and screaming bloody war cries into Art’s taunting face, but Leone’s jagged narration stunts her. survival bow enthusiast. Other supporting performances like Brooke, Kailey Hyman’s brash best friend, are less engaging and reminiscent of cheesier ’80s stereotypes. There are attempts to introduce Kandarian Dagger-like elements with that level of prominence, but no reveal as to why, as the focus remains on Art’s sensational slaughter throughout dreams of commercial shooting, seasonal Halloween window displays, and haunted circus attractions (explaining the film’s “Terrifier” title). Everything you love about Terrifier improves: everything that doesn’t already exist, just in much lesser degrees (progress requires patience).