Where does one begin with describing Terrifier 2? It’s insane. Madcap. Demented. A darkly humorous splatter slasher born from the wild mind of Damien Leone.
Running at 138 minutes, probably one of, if not THE LONGEST, horror movies I’ve ever seen and close to the runtime of Avengers: Infinity War, there’s a lot to Terrifier 2. A lot of gore, a lot of ideas on the table, a lot of cutaways to secondary characters that seem to meander through scenes of extreme gore.
I liked it.
But it is a lot.
Brought to life by Damien Leone’s unique vision and backed by eager fans during its indiegogo campaign, Terrifier 2 exudes that infectious glee that comes with independent horror. I embraced it like a warm hug, knowing that blood, sweat and tears went into the gouging of eyeballs and nightmare-inducing puppets of brutally killed characters. I embraced the glee but I’m getting older and the older I get the more I feel squeamish about offing these poor people. But I write this with a slight smirk all the same.
Where Terrifier 1 was smaller in scope (And, at 86 mins, in runtime) Terrifier 2 feels massive. It’s partly the runtime – it’s shaggy and could do with a trim here or there, with entire scenes being able to be omitted without affecting anything – but it’s also the cast of characters and mythology of the sequel too. There’s a lot here to unpack – you get the feeling that…well, there’s something larger at work. And I don’t mean in the scope of the movie, though there’s that, the movie becomes otherworldly in certain ways – but I mean…I get the idea there’s a blueprint to these ideas and this whole nastiness is leading to…something.
That something doesn’t just involve Art the Clown and David Howard Thornton’s silent, menacing, gleefully sadistic physical performance, it involves Terrifier 2’s heroine Sienna, played by Lauren LaVera, who finds herself drawn into this brutal nightmare. Lauren LaVera is part Nancy from A Nightmare on Elm Street / part Laurie from Halloween. She feels lifted right out of the 80s, helped by the visuals and font and other such attributes from this production. And she’s kickass. I like her. I found myself rooting for her survival and hoping she does just that when she features in future installments. Least I hope she doesn’t just die in an opening à la Halloween: Resurrection.
I like that there’s a plot and character here. Terrifier 1 was bare on that. It almost felt like a demo reel, a showcase of mood and atmosphere that Damien Leone can do. It left me feeling a little withdrawn from the experience. Here there’s a drive to the movie, a sense that something is building. It spends too much time on certain scenes and characters — but there’s something to build upon.
All up Terrifier 2 has the feel of an independent horror of the 80s and that’s part of its charm. But, blimey, at 138 minutes I felt every second that led up to its protracted finale. It’s an exhaustive assault on the senses to the point the gore and torture starts to wear thin. A character is done away with unceremoniously in the last half as if the movie knows this and feels this too.
It just becomes…a lot. A lot of materiel to absorb, a lot of gore to process, a lot of character beats that could’ve been cut. It’s a lot, man! And at my age I was feeling it all the credits, only for the movie to start back up and keep running! Were it trimmed and made a little tighter, it could’ve been more effective.
As it is I like the ideas behind Terrifier 2 — the gore is realized so well that my hat is off to the production, the central performance behind Sienna and Art is wonderful, I enjoy the spirit of the movie and I’m happy to see a horror like this get word-of-mouth and be successful. I’m happy Damien Leone got to bring his vision to life. I’m intrigued as to where a Part 3 goes.
I just hope it’s not 2 hours long.
J’s Verdict – ☆☆☆