Odds are, you’ve seen Art the Clown lurking on your social media feed recently. With his bone-white face - all sharp cheekbones, hooked nose and pointy chin - and perpetually-grinning black mouth, this newest addition to your nightmares is pretty hard to miss. If you haven’t spotted him yet, then you’re just as likely to have seen the name Terrifier 2 banded about with increasing frequency across your trending topics.
That’s because the film itself has recently hit the headlines thanks to reports of its excess gore, blood and violence making a very small number of viewers puke and in some cases faint mid-viewing. “Listen, I would have loved to have a couple of walk-outs, I think that's sort of a badge of honour because it is an intense movie,” Leone recently told Entertainment Weekly, reacting to the news. “I don't want people fainting, getting hurt during the movie. But it's surreal.”
This notoriety quickly got the horror world talking, with mega-author and genre maestro Stephen King even taking to Twitter to sing the film’s praises. However, beyond the film’s clickbait headlines, hyperbolic violence and cliched killer, is Terrifier 2 actually worth your precious time?
With Leone writing and creating visual effects alongside directing, this sequel follows his equally grizzly original which largely came and went back in 2016. In that outing, we followed party girl Tara (Jenna Kanell) as she attempts to survive an unprovoked attack from relentless terror mime Art (David Howard Thornton). With seemingly no motive (or backstory for that matter) and a supernatural ability to survive, this silently-looming evil clown relishes hacking, slashing, maiming, slicing and at one point even shooting his way through the film’s 86-minute runtime.
By replacing any semblance of a compelling narrative with plenty of flesh-piercing gore and visceral gut-spilling, Terrifier may not have set the cinema world alight but at just under an hour and a half, it was a harmless enough way to kill time for those looking for big silly popcorn horror. In part two, Leone amps up the nasty in almost every respect; once again ignoring any ideas of exposition or following through with a coherent and satisfying narrative in favour of one extremely gory scene after another, each so comically over-the-top, it’s hard to take any of them that seriously at all, let alone have them impact you to the point of vomming.
Watch: An exclusive clip for Terrifier 2
At this point, we know what you’re probably thinking: with so much gratuitous splatter on offer, Leone must clearly not want audiences to take his Terrifiers too seriously. After all, towards the end of part two, he even alludes as much by showing one doomed character watching Ed Wood’s notorious so-bad-its-good flop Plan 9 From Outer Space, itself a sly nod to the supposedly similar schlocky nature of his own horror. However, this isn’t entirely reflected in the final product, something that seems to take itself seriously enough to try and warrant a final girl climax regardless of its spotty, all-over-the-place storytelling and meandering plot detours.
As for the gore itself, the social media buzz isn’t wrong. Art The Clown finds no shortage of ways to dismember, gut and de-brain anyone unfortunate enough to cross his path, with Leone surely going through gallons of fake blood and plenty of slimy body bits before production wrapped. However, with no clue as to this clearly-insane character’s backstory or indeed why he’s decided to go on a killing spree or if he’s actually supernatural like Leone’s story sort of indicates or how he chooses his victims or... well, you get the point. Without this much-needed information surrounding Art - combined with the minimal background we’re served about new heroine Sienne (Lauren LaVera) - all these blood, guts and death scenes quickly amount to a throwaway heap of nothing at all. Long story short, we’re never that invested.
Oh, and did we mention it’s two and a half hours long? Because it is. Which is a hell of a lot of your precious time to dedicate to something that will leave you with a heap of questions by the time the credits roll. Although, maybe we’re just being a bit too serious. Not everyone will be bothered about the film’s numerous disembowelment scenes, questionable performances, swollen runtime or the fact that Art seems to be the only horror villain going that can just whip out a handgun and straight-up shoot his victim whenever they start getting the upper hand.
With both Terrifier films, it feels like Leone has built his very own horror villain out of every creepy element guaranteed to set social media voices chattering, Frankenstein-style. Even Art’s attention-stealing appearance looks like something ripped directly from the depths of Creepy Pasta fan-fiction - and scariest of all? It’s clearly worked. Here we are talking about Terrifier 2, a film that’s wholly imperfect and totally not as good as countless other carefully crafted indie horror movies desperately vying for your time - but one that you’re most likely definitely going to go and watch immediately after you finish reading this review. What a time to be alive.
Terrifier 2 is available on Digital Platforms, DVD and Blu-ray from 24 October alongside a Terrifier 1 & 2 Blu-ray box-set.