‘Terrifier 2’ Review: Grindhouse Goodness With A Messy Plot

‘Terrifier 2’ Review: Grindhouse Goodness With A Messy Plot

Terrifier 2 is an interesting film, in that it tries to build off what made the first film so popular – the extreme amounts of gore – and tries to add story to it. The gore succeeds, as it did the first time around. The story… not so much.

Picking up immediately where we left off after the first Terrifier, Art the Clown (David Howard Thornton) is busy killing the coroner in the morgue. From there, he goes to a laundromat, strips butt-ass naked, and washes his clown costume. While waiting, he sees a little girl dressed remarkably similar to himself, and the two start laying together. When another patron, who had dozed off, wakes up, he sees a naked Art playing pattycake by himself, suggesting that this little girl is all in Art’s mind. The laundromat patron gets killed before Art leaves.

A year later, Art the Clown has disappeared, already little more than a local boogeyman. Sienna (Lauren LaVera) and younger brother Jonathan (Elliott Fullam) are discussing their Halloween plans with their mother, and Jonathan wants to go dressed as Art the Clown. Both are horrified at the thought, but mom passes it off as Jonathan just going through a “weird phase.” Their father killed himself an indeterminate amount of time ago, and they are still dealing with the loss.

At this point, there are lots of story points that are mixed into the gory murder sequences, and quite frankly, I have no idea what is going on. Sienna has an extended nightmare about Art the Clown that ends with him lighting a group of people on fire. In her room, a set of feather wings she made for her Halloween costume catches on fire, nearly setting the entire house ablaze. A sword that her father gave her was untouched by the fire. Later on, the sword will become important for an incomprehensible supernatural story point.

The next day at school, Jonathan is out on a hall pass when he sees Art and the little girl playing with a dead possum in the middle of the school hallway. They throw it at him, Jonathan runs, and he gets suspended for vandalizing the school. Later on, he finds a news clipping in his father’s sketchbook about a young girl who was mutilated outside a carnival (the carnival which, later on, Sienna is lured to). This was the young girl playing with Art. As far as I can tell, Art, Sienna, and Jonathan can all see and interact with this little girl, but they are the only ones.

Besides a truly incoherent post-credits scene, there is nothing else I can withdraw from the “story” of this film to share without “spoiling” the “plot.” I use these terms loosely because really, director Damien Leone should have just stuck with what works. The first Terrifier was under 90 minutes and had no plot: it was basically just Art the Clown terrorizing whoever he came across on Halloween night.

Terrifier 2 clocks in at almost two and a half hours, so they have to fit some plot in there to justify the extended length. The problem is, the plot makes no sense. There are lots of things that could be interesting, that just go nowhere. There are hints that Sienna and Jonathan’s dad is way more messed up than merely depressed, but other than a line of dialogue alluding to him having a tumor that made him act abusively, we learn nothing. Then there are hints that Sienna and Jonathan have psychiatric disorders – perhaps passed down from dad, and most obvious because they are able to see the little girl clown – that ended up going nowhere.

Finally, there was the weird supernatural ending, which I won’t spoil in case you actually care about the story. But it made no sense, not in this world, and not shoehorned in at the end of this otherwise not-supernatural story.

But I will focus now on the part of the movie that I did like: the deaths. Because really, if you liked the first Terrifier, that is what you are coming to Terrifier 2 for. The deaths are particularly great. Brutal, violent, and really, really bloody. Just gross. The only thing keeping them from being nauseating is the fact that it is pretty obviously fake. It’s still really good prosthetic work, and I give the team props for doing most, if not all, of the FX practically. It felt like an old H.G. Lewis film, turned up to 11. I mean, Art literally reaches into most of his victims and pulls out their organs, and splashes around in their blood. He really enjoys playing in his victims’ bodies. If grindhouses were still a thing, this would be a headliner. My favorite murder was probably Allie (that’s not a spoiler; it’s a Terrifier movie – everyone dies!). So watch for that one.

Terrifier 2 is best when it does what we are here to see: big, bloody murder. But the attempt at a story is just atrocious. Terrifier 2 tries to be bigger and better than its predecessor when really, we just wanted more of the same.

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