Against all odds, Terrifier 2 is the official box office winner of the 2022 Halloween season. While it’s not surprising that Terrifier eventually beget a sequel, it seemed unlikely that Damien Leone’s follow-up would get much of a theatrical release. Yet somehow this micro-budgeted splatter-fest has slowly expanded its theatrical release each week since its debut. Stories of audience members vomiting and passing out in the aisles have been viral marketing gold. And its $5 million in box office receipts to date is an absolute win. So movie over Michael Myers, Art the Clown is this season’s reigning boogeyman.
Following the Miles County Massacre, Art the Clown is laying dead inside a morgue. But some supernatural force isn’t done with the mysterious serial killer yet, resurrecting him to continue his bloody murder spree. Soon Art the Clown has targeted his next victims – Sienna Shaw and her younger brother, Jonathan.
Terrifier 2 Proves to be an Endurance Test of Sadistic Violence and Overlength
If there were concerns that the sequel might tone things down to get into theaters, you can be rest assured that’s not the case. On the contrary, Terrifier 2 takes all the nastiness of its predecessor and dials it up. Simply put, this is an extremely violent, nasty sequel. Writer and director Damien Leone has made a splatter flick that would make most 70s Grindhouse movies blush. Gorehounds will marvel at the practical effects on display as Leone ups the body count. And Leone draws out these kills with an inventive and almost sadistic level of glee. There’s a nastiness inherent in the sequel that makes it a very difficult watch. One scene finds Art the Clown literally rubbing salt in one victim’s wounds.
Aside from its sheer brutality, Terrifier 2 may turn off audiences with its two hour-plus runtime. Like another splatter auteur Rob Zombie, Leone gives in to his excesses. Few movies can justify over two hours of story and action – that’s Marvel movie territory. Nothing about Terrifier 2 required that much movie. In particular, Leone’s first act frequently drags in between the kills. Arguably, one could cut out at least 40 minutes and the narrative would remain intact.
Terrifier 2 Introduces a Compelling New Character Amidst Some Gonzo Storytelling
What saves Terrifier 2 from being an overly long and violent endurance test is Leone’s bizzarro story. No, this isn’t a ‘kitchen sink’ approach to storytelling. Rather Terrifier 2 doubles down on a surrealist narrative that plays loosely with fantasy and reality. Whether it’s Art’s inexplicable resurrection or a ghastly girl dressed as a clown that some characters can see and others cannot Leone treats the sequel more like a nightmare than a coherent plot. And it works. If the movie was an occasionally aimless parade of carnage, Terrifier 2 builds a uniquely strange mythology around its antagonist, Art the Clown.
No, this isn’t a ‘kitchen sink’ approach to storytelling. Rather Terrifier 2 doubles down on a surrealist narrative that plays loosely with fantasy and reality.
Once again David Howard Thornton brings Art the Clown to life. Perhaps the results are even more disturbing – Thornton’s ability to invest the character with so much evil using only facial expressions and body language is impressive. But newcomer Lauren LaVera’s ‘Sienna Shaw’ may be the sequel’s most important addition. There’s an almost odd level of attention paid to the emotionally damaged character for a splatter movie. Yet is pays off giving audiences someone with whom to identify. All of the potential connections between Art the Clown and Sienna – never elaborated on – make a possible third movie very tempting.
Terrifier 2 is a Transgressive, Uncompromising Vision
Here’s a sequel that proves the old saying, ‘There’s no such thing as bad publicity’. Without stories of movie patrons vomiting in disgust, it’s hard to imagine Terrifier 2 luring that many people into theaters. That’s in no small part due to the fact that Damien Leone’s sequel lives up to its reputation. General audiences – and even many horror fans – will find the extreme sadistic violence to be too much. Nevertheless, gorehound and extreme horror fans will find a surreal transgressive nightmare of a sequel that leaves few taboos untouched.