Being grotesque for the sake of unnerving an audience is not, to my recollection, a tenant of great filmmaking. The unspoken truth of “shocksploitation” is that the audience will invariably splinter into one of two camps.
The first, and I'd imagine the more sizable of the two, will scoff at the immorality of it all and leave. The second, however, will feel a sick perversion possessing them, arresting their conscience and daring them to bear witness to all that has yet to unfold. If you fancy yourself the latter, then perhaps “Terrifier 2” has something for you. If the kills don't upset you, the characters certainly will.
“Terrifer 2” is the story of Victoria Heyes (Samantha Scaffidi), a teenage girl with a dead dad and volatile homelife, being stalked by Art the Clown (David Howard Thornton), a ghastly figure who appeared extensively in her father’s journal throughout the fraught end of his days. By fraught, I mean he had a brain tumor which predisposed him to bouts of anger during which he would abuse his family, before eventually wrapping his car around a pole in a drunken stupor.
None of that really matters, though, as nothing in this film really matters. The filmmakers make only minimal mentions of those parts of Victoria's life in hopes of eliciting unearned sympathy from the audience. This is likely due to their inability to write characters the average audience member would be inclined to care about. Victoria’s brother is a socially maladjusted edge lord, as evidenced by his tasteless praise of a Nazi doctor, and their mother is cruel, which is only known because her son says so.
Everything about the premise of the film is agonizingly lazy because the director Damien Leone made it seem like he had no desire to make a film about prey. Instead, the movie was more concerned with the predator, the aforementioned Art the Clown.
Art the Clown is the crowning achievement of this movie. His mannerisms and the jubilee with which he dispatches his victims is all supremely engaging, the first time at least. However, this is not a short film, eclipsing the two-hour mark in a leaden fashion. Throughout much of the film’s third act, I sat perched on the edge of my seat, not out of exhilaration, but in hope that the movie was arriving at a logical conclusion. However, the film lurched onwards, coasting off the fumes of an exceptionally finite fuel reserve it had long since exhausted.
“Terrifier 2” is a nasty film, full of nasty characters, words and emotions. Leone and company revel in nondescript locales in which faceless fodder find themselves at the mercy of Art. Nothing about “Terrifier 2” is interesting beyond the morbid excess of it all. I imagine a similar result could have been achieved had one given a 12-year-old boy unrestricted access to the internet, the film’s quarter-million dollar budget and a camera.
I’d give “Terrifier 2” a rating of 3/10. After you've acclimated your palette to this film, the visuals no longer serve to unnerve. Instead, a far more deplorable sensation creeps up on you: boredom.