Cinematic Releases: Just the Tip: Terrifier 2 (2022) - Reviewed

Terrifier (2016) was a breakout hit mostly due to Art the Clown's fantastic costume design and the extra-gnarly kill scenes. It generated a great word-of-mouth campaign and was quite infamous in horror circles. The main complaint that viewers had was the lack of a story--the first film is lean and mean, a basic slasher story only elevated by Art's presence. Director Damien Leone took this criticism to heart and went all out on the story for the sequel Terrifier 2 (2022) expounding on the lore around Art the Clown as well as adding a protagonist that the audience will actually care about.

It's Halloween, and following the events of the first film, Art (David Howard Thornton) has somehow been resurrected from the dead. After murdering the coroner, he sets out to continue his reign of terror. Fast forward to a year later, and the narrative switches over to Sienna (Lauren LaVera), a young woman who is working on her Valkyrie themed warrior costume for Halloween. Her life has been full of turmoil with her father killing himself and her mother trying to deal with the aftermath. Art the Clown has achieved serial killer status in the meantime and occupies a lot of media attention. Sienna has been having visions about encountering Art, and her dreams and real life start intersecting as she discovers the true nature of her relationship to the sociopathic demonic clown. 

Right off the bat, it's apparent that the scope of this film is far wider than the first film, and the runtime reflects this clocking in at just shy of two-and-a-half hours. Upon seeing this many filmgoers will ask themselves "does it need to be this long?" and for the most part the answer is no. While some aspects of the narrative are compelling, it just meanders way too much in the first act. 

After a strong opening sequence, the pacing slows down and the dialog isn't strong enough to carry the extended conversations that the characters have with each other. This movie could have benefited with maybe thirty minutes or so shaved off. It finds its footing in the second act, but a lot of people might be tuned out by that point. That being said, once the plot finally gets rolling, it presents some really intriguing ideas. Sienna is interesting enough to carry the film, and LaVera has a lot of charisma that she brings into the role.

On the technical side, Terrifier 2 is very well shot with excellent costumes, set-design, music, and lighting. The practical gore effects are amazing, some of the best I have seen in a long time, and while reports of fainting and barfing at screenings are probably exaggerated, it is pretty intense for a film with a wide theater release and will likely be quite shocking for general audiences. Art the Clown has a menacing presence and the way he switches between a silly silent film type gleefulness and depraved brutality is chilling. Art's background is kept ambiguous which makes him even more mysterious and frightening. 

Even if all of the elements don't work in this film, the sheer ambition and passion for the material shines through. It feels a bit like an '80s Italian horror flick with all of the dream logic employed, and in the last act it goes for broke with some truly outlandish ideas. Personal projects like this don't get made very often and it's worth a watch just to check out a horror film with a lot of love put into it.

--Michelle Kisner