Review by Sean Boelman
Damien Leone’s Terrifier was the little horror movie that could: a low budget horror flick that made the most of its creepy clown premise and solid visual effects to pick up a decent fanbase. Six years later, the sequel, Terrifier 2, is finally being released, and Leone’s labor of love (if you can call it that) makes the most of its lessened restrictions.
Picking up immediately after the events of the first film, Terrifier 2 follows Art the Clown as he targets a teenage girl and her younger brother, setting out on a murderous rampage with a high body count along the way. Unlike the first film, which barely had any plot to be found, this film has a clearer narrative, making it much more accessible for general audiences.
Admittedly, the plot of the film is extremely threadbare. The story is a simple game of cat-and-mouse, and anyone that gets in the way is collateral damage. However, given that the film is very overtly meant to be an homage to the classic slasher movies of yesteryear, having a plot as simple as this is fitting.
The cult following that the first film has gained in the six years since its release has earned it a much greater budget, which allows it to go even bigger and more ambitious with its effects. Granted, more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean more creative, and the film really just delivers more of the same — just with about thirty seconds to a minute more each time.
With that in mind, the film’s biggest overindulgence is its length. While the first film was a lean, eighty-minute horror flick, this one clocks in at two hours and ten minutes before credits — almost a full hour longer when all is said and done. Although it does consistently deliver carnage for that time, it’s a nihilistic two hours that becomes overwhelming after a bit.
For those wondering if the film maintained the disgustingly misogynistic tone of the first, the answer is… not really. There are definitely some aspects of the film that feel reductive and even border on offensive, but nothing is going to ever be as terrible as the upside-down dismembering from the first film.
The one thing that this film is lacking that the first film nailed is a strong protagonist. In trying to attempt something that resembles character development, this film manages to make a character that feels even more shallow. At least the duo in the first film had some pretty kickass moments — Sienna (Lauren LaVera) in this film is largely left to being a victim for two hours.
Terrifier 2 is certainly an improvement over its predecessor, but that wasn’t a terribly high bar to pass. Like the first film, this is still very much an exercise in visual effects more than anything else — and one that is too long, at that — but it’s sure to be enjoyable for fans of the horror genre.
Terrifier 2 screened at the 2022 edition of Fantastic Fest, which runs September 22-29 in Austin, TX and September 29-October 4 virtually.