Terrifier 2 (2022)

I know that Terrifier was not the first time that Art the Clown (David Howard Thornton) was introduced, but what little story there was in the movie was unique to that film.  It was just under 90 minutes, was pretty much a highlight reel of bloody scenes and had one that in the opinion of many went way too far, as any movie of its type should.  What it felt like was a well-done demo real, with Damien Leone basically stringing together a bunch of scenes to show what he could do on his own with the hint of what he could do on a big budget production if hired.

Despite its lack of anything that felt like a traditional movie Terrifier became a decent cult hit.  People started dressing as Art for Halloween and the reputation of the film grew.  Within a few years it had a big enough following where Leone decided to make a sequel and, with some crowd funding and returning to direct and do the effects himself, he managed to make a good part of Terrifier 2 before COVID-19 put production on hold.  The lockdown period also had the effect of allowing him to work on many of the scenes and make them more elaborate.

Sienna (Laura LaVera) is a teenage girl preparing her costume for an upcoming night out on Halloween.  She is designing it based on a drawing by her late father.  Her brother Jonathan (Elliott Fullam) is wanting to dress up like Art the Clown, who a year before had murdered a bunch of people in what became known as the Miles County Massacre.  Their mother (Sarah Voigt) just wants to keep them both out of trouble.  Sienna is particularly concerned that her brother wants to dress up like a mass murderer and is worried about his obsession with serial killers.

As for Art he wakes up in the morgue shortly after the events of the first film.  While cleaning his outfit in a laundromat he meets a Pale Little Girl (Amelie McLain) that looks similar to him.  On the year anniversary of the massacre he begins targeting Sienna and Jonathan, working his way through their friends and family.  What Sienna discovers, however, is that the sketches her father made are prophetic, and the costume he meant for her is more than just an outfit for Halloween.

The biggest issue with Terrifier 2 is the time.  I liked Terrifier, perhaps much more than I should, but I was dreading two hours and 20 minutes of no plot and repetitive kill scenes.  The good thing is that Terrifier 2 has a plot and Sienna is a likeable and somewhat interesting character, although I find her brother Jonathan a bit more so.  Laura LaVera and Elliott Fullam are decent actors, and I even thought Sarah Voigt did a good job as their mother despite the fact she is mentioned by many as a low point in the film.  Personally, I think Leone wanted her to go over-the-top because this needed some real humor and not just the gags that Art thinks are funny.

The main plot isn't bad, but there are a lot of problems.  For a movie of this length one would expect that when mysteries are introduced they are at least somewhat answered.  This doesn't happen.  I won't spoil much, but don't expect to find out who the children's dad is, even when it is revealed how he died.  Other than having a brain tumor nothing is explained about his precognition or anything else that led up to Art stalking the family or Sienna's showdown with the clown.  Just suffice it to say that things happen and there will be no explanation, which is a letdown.  It worked in the last film because there literally was no story other than demonic clown kills people.  Also, this could have been 45 minutes to an hour less and be more satisfying if Leone is not interested in the mystery boxes he sets up throughout. 

There are huge chunks of the film that don't even need to be there and contribute nothing.  One is an early dream sequence that is referenced later in the movie but, other than vaguely linking Art and Sienna, doesn't push the story forward.  The mid-credits scene (which is where Chris Jericho has a cameo as a security guard) goes on about twice as long as necessary.  While I hate the censoring that was done to many '80s horror flicks many special effects artists on their own figured out that the more they linger on the gore and the kills the more it either becomes unintentionally funny or the curtain parts enough that the audience can see the mechanisms behind the tricks.  The latter happens a bit too often in this movie. 

Despite Leone's overindulgence many of the gags work, including the infamous "bedroom scene" which is the one that pushes things to the limit.  However, that one does it not by lingering on what is going on, but adding an emotional note at the end.  The scene in the video store is good and, though it goes into some nonsensical routes and, like most of the movie, could be shorter, the ending in the funhouse provides the some nice thrills.  

I did like a majority of Terrifier 2 but, in taking the time to flesh out Sienna and Jonathan, it also needed to provide some answers to things that were set up earlier.  Also, when Sienna's true nature emerges at the end, it doesn't go far enough, but I think with a bigger budget Leone would have taken it to its logical extreme.  From what I understand his plans for the next two is getting back to shorter films.  I am hoping he lets some other people in on the writing as well as the editing.

Terrifier 2 (2022)
Time: 138 minutes
Starring: Lauren LaVera, Elliott Fullam, Sarah Voigt, David Howard Thornton
Director: Damien Leone



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