Terrifier was an excellent example of how word-of-mouth benefited an indie. If you were within horror circles (or chatting with other Netflix subscribers about what random movies were in your queue), people couldn’t stop talking about the film’s antagonist (a sinister and silent clown named Art played by David Howard Thornton), as well as how unforgivably gnarly and violent Damien Leone’s movie was.
The film has spawned a crowdfunded sequel, Terriifier 2, and Leone’s filmmaking is the talk of the town again. This time, since the film has been playing in the United States for about a month, people can’t stop talking about the reaction the movie has received. While the movie’s violence is a hot topic yet again, reports of movie goers fainting and vomiting in the theatre are almost eclipsing the actual film. So, just like the predecessor, does Terrifier 2 warrant its word-of-mouth?
Terrifier 2 is beyond nasty, using lots of inventive ways (along with sensational practical effects and prosthetics) to dismember and mutilate people. Yes, your jaw will drop. Yes, you’ll wince. However, if you can stomach it, Terrifier 2 is also a unique amalgamation of the absurd and the grotesque.
It helps that Leone’s movie is still pitched as a dark comedy with a sick, sick, sick sense of humour that mirrors the morbid mind of Art the Clown (played, once again, by Thornton). Art’s, dare I say, “charm” does provoke laughter. The laughs are usually reacting to something genuinely funny, and then our perception is distorted into snickering out of discomfort. Audiences may be reacting to the visual on screen, but the nausea could also be out of utter confusion for what to feel. It’s a response that doesn’t always feel good for the audience but, to give credit where credit is due, Leone’s filmmaking and Thornton’s performance succeed in gathering the appropriate reaction from their viewers.
Terrifier 2 also plays this concept as straight as possible – a town is tormented on Halloween by an evil and murderous clown with vague motivations. There’s some brief insight about obsessing over serial killers, but it’s a story suggestion that remains as an idea and isn’t fully developed. Leone’s writing could’ve expanded on this. Maybe have Art lost in a sea of cosplaying clowns on Halloween, and then catching himself enamoured by the infamy. But, it’s also very apparent Terrifier 2 isn’t here to make a social statement. Unlike Art, Leone is honest with his intentions.
Art’s origins are explored a little bit, but Leone wants to play “the long game” when dissecting Art (no pun intended). That may be a little too presumptuous for the writer/director to assume Terrifier 2 will be a hit with returning fans and that it’ll open more doors for this crazy story. That said, Terrifier 2 thrilled and shocked me, and you’re damn right I’m coming back for a third.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie