Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

At long last, new horror icon Art the Clown makes his triumphant return to the big screen! Terrifier 2, from writer/director Damien Leone, is one of the best cinematic bloodbaths in years. Evoking Halloween Kills, The Devil’s Rejects, and A Nightmare on Elm Street, the nightmarish delights of this high-concept indie slasher title easily won me over. If clowns are your weakness, Art may very well cause you to run for the remote. I think it is important to note that this film is not for the faint of heart. Housed within this nearly two-and-a-half hour mini-masterpiece are some of the goriest, most painful-looking deaths (mostly executed with stunning practical effects) I have ever seen.

In case one forgot where we last left Art (David Howard Thorton), he had just shot himself in the head rather than submit to apprehension from the cops. Later at the morgue, Art came back to life and already resumed his bloodthirsty ways! Now, here we are with Art 2.0, a seemingly unstoppable slasher killing machine. An opening scene sets the stage for the bloody mayhem that will eventually follow. Art smashes the coroner to pieces and crushes his head open like a pumpkin. Art plays with his eyeballs, too. Covered in blood from head to toe, Art departs with a bag of goodies, and zooms over to the laundromat to make a fresh start. 

Art may be resurrected, but in this family’s household, crafty teen Sienna (Lauren LaVera) desperately tries to get her brother, Jonathan (Elliott Fullam), to change his Halloween costume to something less offensive. It is one year later, and Art’s killing spree has become the stuff of legend. His body having vanished at the morgue, Jonathan appears to admire the murderer enough to select him as his costume. Sienna desperately tries to get their insufferable mom to intervene and send Jonathan away to get help before he turns into a budding serial killer himself. For Halloween, Sienna has crafted a costume that would have made her recently-deceased artist father proud. Her warrior comic moment with wings is created around artwork that Sienna’s father left in a sketchbook. Curiously enough, Art’s striking image was also sketched by their father… Do Sienna and Jonathan possibly share a deeper connection to Art?

Sienna has recurring nightmares, haunted by the image of the clown. He mows down a group of unsuspecting patrons filming a Clown Cafe commercial with a Tommy gun, leaving Sienna as the lone survivor. Soon enough, Sienna’s dreams begin bleeding into reality. She sees Art at a local Halloween costume store, blocking her way. Her friend tries gaslighting her afterward, ensuring Sienna that it couldn’t possibly really be Art the clown, the murderous maniac. Is Sienna destined to be the one to take down Art once and for all? 

Of course, none of this would be possible without David Howard Thorton’s downright chilling performance as Art. How can one even put into words the goosebumps felt watching him slip into his manic character? Some of the creepiest scenes don’t even involve Art killing anyone at all. The encounter at the costume shop houses a sequence in which Art taunts Sienna as she tries to pay at the counter. We see Art in the background, and each time the camera pans back to him, he has some new pose or pair of sunglasses, chillingly wide-smiled. For me, Terrifier 2’s crowning, most memorable movie moment is a lengthy chase scene that follows bitchy blonde Brooke (Kailey Hyman) through an abandoned carnival amusement park. I have to give props to a good chase scene, and this is one of the best I have seen in quite some time. Art is a force to be reckoned with as he hacks and slashes his way through anything that moves.

Terrifier 2 is better than the first in nearly every imaginable way. Bigger, nastier, and more fun, each creative death sequence goes preposterously over-the-top. One poor woman gets it so bad that she seems to just barely be clinging to life each time we see her despite being scalped, salted, dismembered, and torn up. There were times when I could barely believe what I was seeing. I have to say I am in awe of the practical effects work that went into this project. Creepy, silent mimes are all the rage as Art’s haunting visage spreads Halloween spooks and cheer all across the land! 

Terrifier 2 screened at 2022’s Fantastic Fest. It rips open the torso of audiences everywhere with gleeful abandon when it releases in theaters everywhere on October 6th.

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