Everything we loved about the first movie is back and then some. We have more plot, more reason to root for the protagonists, and decidedly more bloodshed. Art’s psychopathy is beyond deliciously malformed, and his speechless antics deserve all the laughs they receive, especially in one particular scene involving a Halloween store and some sunglasses. If you believed the first film had groundbreaking creative kills, plan on adding several more to your favorites list. Love the hacksaw kill in the first movie? Just wait. This carnage-riddled blood fest is a sure case of the sequel is better. As incredibly gory and fun as Terrifier was, the new installation redefines depravity—in a good way. I’m not sure we’ve seen this much relentless brutality since Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses, and Terrifier 2 acts almost as a challenge from Leone to Zombie: Which of us can truly bring the gore? Personally, I’d love to see that battle.
The film brings more than just kills, though, and to understand where Art is going, we must remember where he’s been. At the end of the destruction in Terrifier, after eating final victim Victoria Heyes’ face, being cornered by cops, and shooting himself in the mouth, Art is resurrected. This is where viewers realized he is no regular clown; demonic forces are at work, which also raised the question: Was Art ever truly human? Those same supernatural elements are heavily portrayed in Terrifier 2, appearing on several levels and in several characters, rendering Art even deadlier than before. He now has superhuman strength which provides a launching pad for some of the most creative kills in recent horror.
Adding new depth to the mystery behind Art’s origin is the introduction of Demon Girl (Amelie McLain), as well as interesting reveals about lead actress Sienna Shaw (Lauren LaVera). Just as with Terrifier, there is much more to learn about Art which will leave viewers to speculate about the possibility of another movie; however, the mystery serves the film well. With the abundance of clues and lack of resolution on who Art is, fans will be left with much to hypothesize and debate about, and it ensures his survival in the halls of horror supervillains.
In terms of the acting, the film couldn’t have a better cast. Thornton adorns us with an evolved Art the Clown. He is—once again—absolutely flawless in his performance, but the character has had some growth in between films. Thornton’s miming ability is hypnotic and captivating, and there is absolute grace in the brutal kills. As Art’s sometimes sidekick, McLain slays the role of Demon Girl. She mimics everything we love so much about Art in her performance which provides horrordom with another iconic clown. This is an actress with a brilliant future ahead, but so does LaVera, who portrays my new favorite final girl. Dealing with the recent death of her father, a mother who struggles, and a strange, but endearing, younger brother, LaVera nails the complexity of the character with ease. In the role of younger brother Jonathan, Elliott Fullam is an excellent addition to snarky almost-teens solving a mystery, and when the brother-sister duo are on screen together, they absolutely shine. We mustn’t forget to mention the appearance of Felissa Rose from Sleepaway Camp fame. She is a fun sight in any movie, and it’s no different here. We also see the return of Samantha Scaffidi as Victoria Heyes in a delightful sequence, as revealed earlier this year by the release of a highly disturbing behind-the-scenes image.
Like most horror fans, I prefer practical effects over CGI, and the sequel improves upon the already outstanding effects and makeup of the first film. With amped-up kills and extended murder scenes, that’s not an easy task. The flick should see quite a few awards in the coming year for it, and that Leone is incredibly talented with the effects solidifies his standing in the horror genre. The familiar '80s homages in the first film are peppered throughout this one, as well, and there are some Easter eggs to brighten up any horror fanatic’s viewing experience.
Terrifier 2 is a well-rounded sequel for an already cult classic. It shows the franchise is more than a creepy clown and lots of murder. There’s hope, love, family trauma, grief, and generous amounts of conflict. You won’t hear me droning on about any negatives in this film. As a fan, I’m hard-pressed to find them, and they seem incredibly minor compared to the brilliant fun encased in the 2 hours and 28 minutes of runtime. There will be critics calling out this or that, but it’s the fans who matter most, and Terrifier 2 delivers exactly what they want—and so much more—with a film made especially for them.
Creative Team: Writer/Director/Editor: Damien Leone; Cast: David Howard Thornton (Art the Clown), Lauren LaVera (Sienna Shaw), Amelie McLain (Demon Girl), Elliott Fullam (Jonathan Shaw); Cinematography: George Steuber; Distributor: Bloody Disgusting
Terrifier 2 will be in theaters on October 6, 2022, from Cinedigm in partnership with Iconic Events.