FILM REVIEW: TERRIFIER 2 is a bloated treat for lovers of gore-soaked low-budget slasher fare


Damien Leone’s follow-up to the 2016 cult favorite is an overlong feature that stretches out its run time a bit too far with its simplistic story.

The best horror films have solid stakes that get you to cheer for the film’s hero or final girl against the impossible odds that the film’s big bad place them against. When you have a hero that feels like they can overthrow the boogeyman, a dream demon, or an unstoppable zombie summer camper, you as an audience member care about that hero. When you have a boogeyman that is literally unstoppable; one that seems more like a living cartoon, that kills with no rhyme or reason, it presents a real question of how invested are you in the outcome as an audience member?

That’s the question I felt myself asking when watching 2022’s Terrifier 2, directed by Damien Leone and starring David Howard Thornton as the film’s erstwhile boogeyman Art The Clown. Leone, who does the film’s special effects on top of writing and directing this follow-up, has a definite talent for scares and viscera and the popularity of his Art character has grown leaps and bounds since the first Terrifer film. In this follow-up, Art returns, literally replacing himself with spare parts and cleaning himself up in the laundry to continue his quest for bad pun-laden gore set-ups. But the film’s pace, which feels overlong and plodding, has you asking yourself early on what is the point. Especially, when a female version of Art the Clown shows up to help him on his way as a sort of demented Harley Quinn meets Jiminy Cricket. His path is set to cross with Sienna (Lauren Lavera), a girl who seems destined to be his nemesis as prophesized in a comic book-inspired destiny written by her late father. Her family life is lacking, with a younger brother who seems obsessed with Art’s killing spree and a mother who is detached from what is going on. Sienna has visions of Art targeting her in her dreams in weird children’s television inspired nightmares. When Art and his demonic muse target Sienna and her family to destroy the chances of their apocalyptic prophesized battle taking place, Sienna is forced to become a phoenix and rise from her circumstances to take Art and his mini me down.

On paper, this sounds cool, if not a bit reminiscent of Freddy’s Dead The Final Nightmare and, in many ways, Terrifier 2 feels like a latter-day Freddy sequel. They didn’t have to get into non-sensical quasi-lore this quickly and it almost feels like jumping from watching A Nightmare on Elm Street to A Nightmare on Elm Street 4. There are a lot of narrative threads that could have been explored in Terrifier that could have been followed here. There is one that is drawn on, that of that film’s final girl Vicky that is explored in a very bizarre way in the film’s tag. But that being said, Sienna has an interesting story that is largely not explored. That’s the big issue with Terrifer 2; the film is over 2 and 1/2 hours long, yet most of that time is spent on overlong gore scenes that feel like they would be more effective if edited down, or following long scenes of Art The Clown putting himself back together or interacting silently with characters before killing them violently. I’m all for gore and this film has two really cool gory kill setups that would be even better if they were cut shorter so you notice the fake viscera less. The film’s less effective kills involve Art gunning people down which seems lame in a slasher movie, but still works in a sort of Troma way. Less is often more and it stands to say that is very true of Terrifier 2. This is a 90-minute movie in a nearly 3 hour bloated shell. The film sports cool makeup and some great set-ups but it feels overlong. For the run-time, Sienna and her friends and family are drawn very thin and given that Sienna is being set up as the Nancy to Art’s Freddy it doesn’t really ring true.

That being said, Terrifier’s draw has long been the elaborate death set-ups and gore; draws that this film delivers that in spades. The film’s reach exceeds its budget’s grasp, but it has a Troma-like moxy in trying to deliver which will appeal to many. In the end, a more modest follow-up might have promised more interesting future installments, but the film goes for the gonzo gusto which may help it find a deeper cult following.