Terrifier 2 Review: Yup, Vomiting While Watching This Film Makes A Lot Of Sense

It doesn't hold back in any way, shape, or form.

Art the Clown in Terrifier 2
(Image: © Bloody Disgusting)

Since Wes Craven’s Scream, pop culture junkies love to talk about the “rules” of the slasher subgenre, and Damian Leone’s Terrifier from 2016 is notably an entry that doesn’t ascribe to any of them. Horror aficionados will identify the setup of a “final girl” and have certain expectations from the villainous and hideous Art The Clown (David Howard Thornton), but it ultimately mocks your sense of security about any individual character, and the killer never underwhelms when it comes to shocking, deviant behavior. One struggles to call it substantive in and of itself (beyond its bold and brilliant special effects), but it also represents a fascinating evolution for slasher movies.

Its follow-up, Terrifier 2, is definitely a step back toward the conventional. It boasts a runtime almost double the length of its predecessor, and it most definitely doesn’t pull back when it comes to extreme, graphic content, but the plotting is more of the standard variety that we’ve seen since the 1970s. With this growth, however, also come much stronger character development and a more nuanced narrative that doesn’t merely render every human being that pops up on screen as meat for the grinder that is Art The Clown. It’s a mixed bag, but most certainly entertaining for those with the proper sensibilities (and a strong stomach).

Set one year after the brutal Halloween slayings depicted in Terrifier, the sequel picks up as “the Miles County Clown” has become an instant urban legend, and it’s one that gives artistic teenager Sienna (Lauren LaVera) the creeps. Her younger brother, Jonathan (Elliott Fullam), is fascinated by the monstrous serial killer, and not only does that concern her, but she has a horrible, real-feeling nightmare that gives her a front row seat to Art The Clown’s carnage.

It turns out this concern is legitimate, as, unbeknownst to her, she becomes the primary target for the sadistic, inhuman antagonist, and that means it’s also open season on her friends and family.

Dressed as an armor-clad warrior inspired by her dead father’s drawings, Sienna makes plans to go out for Halloween with her friends Allie (Casey Hartnett) and Brooke (Kailey Hyman) – but Art and his terrifying mini-me credited as The Little Pale Girl (Amelie McLain) successfully stand in their way of enjoying the spooky holiday.

Yes, Terrifier 2 is absolutely, 100% as disgusting and horrifying as has been advertised.

Terrifier 2 has been earning headlines due to the fact that it has provoked audiences to faint and vomit, and while I can’t personally say that I had the same kind of physical reaction… I get it. Even the most gnarly modern mainstream horror movies have a line that isn’t crossed when it comes to extreme content, but Damian Leone demonstrates no respect for that philosophy. The first ten minutes of this film feature not only two brutal and disgusting murders, but the aforementioned Little Pale Girl defecating on the floor of a laundromat. We’ve seen nothing even remotely similar to that playing in wide release in the first ten months of 2022.

Obviously this isn’t a film that all audiences are going to want to see (I imagine some of you reading this review even checked out after the descriptions in the previous paragraph), but also unignorable is the remarkable craft in the work. Love it or hate it, it does exactly what horror movies are meant to do (read: horrify), and it takes mad genius brains to bring it all to life the way that Terrifier 2 does. It’s easy to be appalled by the sight of a killer clown slashing a woman’s face, scalping her and then snapping her arm off like a tree branch, but it’s way more fun to be mesmerized by the demonstrated craft that brings it all to life so brutally and realistically.

Come for the blood-shedding of Terrifier 2, but prepare to actually get hooked by the story.

At this point, anyone who goes to see Terrifier 2 is primarily going with the intention of witnessing the horrors to which I’ve been alluding – but that may result in audiences being caught off guard by their appreciation for the story and characters. The 138-minute runtime for a slasher movie may instigate concerns of bloat, but Damian Leone does a fantastic job with escalation in Sienna’s story, and Lauren LaVera makes plays her with the great qualities genre fans want from horror heroines: she’s vulnerable, but courageous, and haunted, but badass.

The strong protagonist and pacing are upgrades for the sequel, though the film does bite off a bit more than it can chew at times – particularly when it comes to world-building. It experiments with the idea that there is a kind of fantastical connection between Sienna and Art The Clown, and in addition to just being too conventional for such an extreme work, it’s half baked. While not something that irreparably hurts the movie, and there is payoff in the third act, it also never feels like something that is needed by the plot.

Terrifier 2 is a reminder of why we love horror movies.

While not being utterly blown away by Terrifier 2, I do find myself thinking about why it was that I fell in love with the horror genre in the first place. As a child, I couldn’t tolerate scary movies because they would do nothing but provoke horrible nightmares – but then everything changed when I started to marvel at the fact that a work of fiction could have that kind of an impact. I may not have fully fainted, but the barbarity is dizzying in moments, and it’s a visceral response that comes from simply watching images flicker on a screen. It’s savage and remarkably fucked up entertainment, and impressive because of it.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.