A regressive and enjoyable delirium that would have made many spectators vomit during its American release? Terrify 2 is ultimately just a stupid and nasty slasher, confusing generosity with overdose that fails to provide the slightest feeling except boredom.
Synopsis of Terrify 2 : A year after Art the Clown’s previous butchery, Sienna Shaw attends a Halloween party with her friends. While her younger brother develops an unhealthy fascination with Art, she ends up crossing paths with the bloodthirsty killer clown…
Like Don Mancini and his Chucky doll, Damien Leone seems to have found with Art the Clown a character to exploit from every angle. And for good reason, since 2008, the director has involved his creation in short films (The 9th Circle, Terrify) than in feature films in their own right (All Hallow’s Eve, in 2013). Until giving it its own franchise in 2016 with Terrify first of the name (title taking up that of the short of 2011). If the character is still unpublished in France, his macabre performances attract many enthusiasts of the genre and certain English-speaking media, praising the horrific potential of this saga in the making. Potential that Damien Leone seems to want to increase tenfold via this sequel and a substantial “more” budget – we are talking about $250,000, which is still much lower than the productions of the Hollywood majors. Because if it is necessary to recognize something to Terrify 2it is the generosity and the desire of Leone to bring his work into the mainstream.
Funded with next to nothing ($35,000), the first Terrify was all exploitation film. Entertainment that did not care to offer even an ounce of quality. As long as he managed to offer viewers what they wanted from such a title. Thus, the film showed us neither more nor less the massacre of people by a psychopathic clown. Without worrying for a single second about his lack of resources and his devilishly amateur appearance. To say, those who would discover today Terrify would be faced with a student film uploaded to Youtube. With its actors on the pick-up, its bland staging (poor decorations, no play of light, feelings at a discount…) and its lack of atmosphere. Even, the feature film was rather shy towards his character, contenting himself with his charisma – and the crazy performance of his comedian David Howard Thornton – and the highly gore aspect of his murders without espousing the destructive madness that defines him. With this sequel, Leone goes to a whole new level! Although Terrifier 2 retains the status of an exploitation film, its visuals are much more controlled and “professional”. And thanks to more means, the director can finally offer delirious sequences to his character, who fully enjoy his horrors. Like a Freddy Krueger tirelessly playing with his poor victims. All embellished with a much more pronounced and assumed gore that could make sensitive souls spin, as can also testify to the various testimonies during the American screenings of the film. The latter speaking of spectators having vomited or had to leave the room following an illness. Which, it must be said, changes from the big horrific productions a tad watered down in recent years! Unfortunately, by playing the generosity card too much, Terrify 2 tripping over the carpet of overdose.
An overdose that is already noticeable in his desire to create a real mythology for his clown. Because if the film could very well have been satisfied with a story of a psychopath à la Michael Myers, it prefers to venture into the domain of the fantastic. Going so far as to invoke, for once, the worst episodes of the franchises Friday 13, The Claws of the Night and consorts. And for good reason, Damien Leone offers his killer a diabolical aura to justify his resurrection – Art having normally been killed in the previous film. But also a story of an evil entity that would allow implausible killings. The fact that the main characters have visions when required by the scenario. A summoning climax carries hells and other incomprehensible oddities. And finally a post-generic scene that explodes the counter of anything so that a new sequel can see the light of day. With an absurd tone, the pill could have passed. But Terrify 2 seems to draw this mythology with so much seriousness and respect for its clown that the whole thing turns into nameless ridicule, difficult to swallow. Unless you are a fan of horror B series from the 80s, not sure that the whole thing can fully captivate you.
An overdose which is also reflected in the duration of the feature film. In effect, Terrify 2, with its 2:18, can be considered the longest slasher in the history of cinema. It is true that the duration of a film does not determine its quality. And yet, this should be a criterion for the horror genre, which was long confined to viewing 1:30 and wheelbarrows. But lately, even horror movies have allowed themselves to last longer than their predecessors. And when they exceed 2 hours, it has often reproached them! As can testify Conjuring 2 (2h14) and VSa: Chapter 2 (2h49). Especially since there we’re talking about a movie that’s about nothing but a killer massacring people who cross his path. Either a single Halloween which would make 40 minutes longer than its original length just for more morbid pleasure and this without avoiding the clichés of the genre. In short, it does absolutely nothing for the whole! Just quite frustrating rhythm problems, stretching out scenes and other shots that suddenly lose efficiency. Artificially furnishing sequences that clearly didn’t need to last that long. Just see the final face-to-face with the heroine, which never ends! Even the post-credits scene is long… it almost becomes an unbearable joke, which would hold the viewer by the arm, bordering on harassment.
And by overdoing it, Damien Leone was unable to correct his shortcomings as a director. Whether it’s his direction of actors, the cast offering oh so unequal acting. On the one hand we have comedians who are thoroughly enjoying themselves (David Howard Thornton of course, but also Kailey Himan, Casey Hartnett, Amelie McLain) or who do the bare minimum (Lauren LaVera, Sara Voigt). Even who overplay as it is not allowed (Elliott Fullam). But it is once again due to the lack of staging by its director that Terrify 2 fish the most. Bland as possible, the film never manages to provide the slightest feeling when watching it.. The gory scenes do not manage to provoke the disgust and discomfort so decried by the American media – testimonies which, for once, would be more of a marketing aspect than real facts – such as The Sadness had known how to do it a few months earlier. At no time are fear and tension felt. And, height of ambition, the film does not even manage to transcribe a disturbing mystical aspect while the mythology of its clown imposes it. Taking into account its excessive duration mentioned above, Terrify 2 fails to capture attention. It fails to be anything other than an empty and boring delirium, despite the generosity that characterizes it.
If many will see Terrify 2 a highly enjoyable regressive release, the editor of his lines has a hard time seeing anything other than a clumsy, stupid and nasty slasher. Who enjoys an undeserved notoriety while other equally “minor” horror titles are much more disturbing and effective gore question. Not to mention more interesting and fun overall. It remains to be seen whether Terrifier 3, already announced, will push the escalation cursor even further than this second opus. There, with more mastery and fully assumed delirium, we could obtain an explosive work that would offer Art the Clown his status as a legendary cinema killer. Alongside big names such as Ghostface, Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers. But for the moment, dear Damien Leone, there is still a long way to go…
Terrifier 2 – Trailer
Terrifier 2 – Data Sheet
Directed by: Damien Leone
Screenplay: Damien Leone
Cast: David Howard Thornton (Art the Clown), Lauren LaVera (Sienna Shaw), Elliott Fullam (Jonathan Shaw), Sarah Voigt (Barbara Shaw), Amelie McLain (The Pale Girl), Chris Jericho (Burke), Kailey Hyman ( Brooke), Casey Hartnett (Allie)…
Photography: George Steuber
Costumes: Olga Turka
Editing: Damien Leone
Music: Paul Willey
Producer: Phil Falcone
Production companies: Dark Age Cinema and Fuzz on the Lens Productions
Distribution (France): ESC Distribution
Duration: 138 mins.
Release date: January 11, 2023
United States – 2022