Nonsensically Ultraviolent Terrifier 2 Clowns Around with Punishing Blood-Soaked Madness
Art the Clown (David Howard Thornton) has been reborn. It’s been a year since his last killing spree spun Miles County on its head, and with a pint-sized, supernatural sidekick (Georgia MacPhail) urging him on, this new bloodbath will make the demonic joker’s previous shenanigans looks positively G-rated in comparison.
This time Art has his sights set on high school senior Sienna (Lauren LaVera) and her younger brother Jonathan (Elliott Fullam). There is some sort of psychic connection between the teenager and the clown, mysterious visions of hellish carnage fueling her nightmares and bleeding into reality with fiery fury. Jonathan believes their late comic book artist father dreamt about the bond Art has with his daughter, drawing clues as to how Sienna may be able to defeat this monster right before his tragic death.
Terrifier 2 makes no sense. I’m pretty sure that’s on purpose, writer-director Damien Leone’s mad, grotesquely epic sequel to his strangely popular 2016 cult splatter favorite a gargantuan WTF stunner that’s one gross-out sequence after another with only the tiniest fragments of plot holding it all together. It’s 138 minutes of blood-soaked insanity, so distastefully excessive even my horror-loving heart had trouble enduring it all from start to finish.
Leone’s second journey with Art the Clown hits the ground running, assuming viewers already know the score and as such spends zero energy trying to explain anything. But this makes the film something of a stream-of-consciousness nightmare made up of a series of demonic nonsensical vignettes instead of any semblance of a cohesive narrative. It’s one scene of playfully abhorrent depravity after another, each sequence of unhinged ultraviolence more repugnantly punishing than the last.
At such an epic length, it all becomes somewhat desensitizing. People’s skulls get cleaved open, eyes get gauged out, arms get torn from their sockets, and happy singing minstrels get set ablaze. Some get bludgeoned by homemade clubs decked out in rusty nails and other sharpened implements, while others have the skin ripped from their body and a mixture of bleach and salt exuberantly rubbed into their wounds. Barely alive skeletons cry out for their mothers, all the while Art looks on happily as if he’s pulled off the greatest gag in clown comedy history.
Interspersed in all of this mayhem is a sister-brother story of two young people grieving for a lost parent while still trying to figure out the mess their lives have become, hoping they aren’t making things too miserable for their harried – if loving – mother. They have visions of Art and his pipsqueak henchman, including an outlandish dream sequence with its own theme song and smiling, happy victims eager to be dismembered by the clown. Jonathan even has an encounter with a disemboweled rodent, what that has to do with anything your guess is as good as mine.
That’s the thing about Terrifier 2 – it refuses to do a single coherent thing. There’s the vaguest of ideas that Sienna and Jonathan’s dad knew what was coming as well as something to do with a mystical sword, but Leone doesn’t spend much effort spelling those or other narrative elements out with any clarity. This means that the absurd, over-the-top climax is a bewildering hodgepodge of exploitive vulgarities augmented by sudden bursts of heroic zaniness right out of Heavy Metal or a 1980s glam rock music video. Making heads or tails out of any of it? That’s impossible.
I should note that Leone is in complete control. Nothing happens that he does not intend, and as unwieldy as it all is, the pieces of the film bizarrely still fit together nicely. Art the Clown is a memorably malevolent creature of carnage played with a jovial wink and disquieting smile by Thornton, and it’s easy to see why fans have grown so fond of the slasher villain. The makeup effects, as utterly disgusting as they may be, are impressively eye-popping, Leone constructing wonders of bloodcurdling calamity the likes of which I’ve never seen before.
As remarkable as all that may be, Terrifier 2 is exhausting. Leone’s sequel wore me out, it’s objectionably devious nastiness too extreme even for me.
Film Rating: 2 (out of 4)