Why Terrifier 2 Is Almost Too Brutal For Some Horror Fans

It's always impressive to see a low-budget independent horror flick break into the mainstream consciousness in the manner that "Terrifier 2" has. Slasher villains often stand out among horror characters because they firmly put a face to the madness, and few screen killers in recent memory have committed to cementing a more haunting image than that of Art the Clown.

You've seen your killer clowns, whether from the far reaches of space ("Killers Klowns from Outer Space") or the murky depths of Maine ("It"), but you've never seen a clown quite like Art. Even if you've never seen his movies, you've likely seen his demented face. Art was initially a throughline antagonist in director Damien Leone's 2013 anthology flick "All Hallows Eve," which itself was composed of the filmmaker's short films from years past. Initially played by Mike Giannelli, it was David Howard Thornton who would secure the pantomime killer's legacy in 2016's "Terrifier." 

Where "All Hallows Eve" was a sort of test run for the character, "Terrifier" was where the clown prince of grime made himself known. And now, Art has continued his reign of terror going into this Halloween season with "Terrifier 2," a sequel that has been eliciting the kind of bodily reactions that even the most jaded horror fanatic couldn't have imagined.

Screenings Have Led To Fainting, Vomiting, And Ambulances

Going into its third week of limited theatrical release, "Terrifier 2" has been making headlines for a number of reasons. First, it collected over $1.2 million at the box office in one weekend despite only screening in 900 theaters, and will continue to expand in coming weeks. This is a big deal because Leone's 138-minute slasher epic wasn't distributed by a major studio -- Cinedigm and Bloody Disgusting are behind its theatrical run.

But it's the other headlines where things get messy. According to a report from USA Today, it appears that the film is too extreme for some people, prompting them to either faint or resort to vomiting. Even an ambulance had been called to one theater.

It got to the point where Steve Barton, the film's executive producer, had to tweet out a viewer discretion warning. William Castle would be so proud.

Most horror movies wish they could get this kind of hyperbole about how scary or gross the experience is, but "Terrifier 2" is one that actively deserves it. 

The Gore Of Terrifier 2 Is No Joke

"Saw" used to be the gory Halloween splatter fest folks went to see around this time of year, but even Jigsaw would feel compelled to tell Art to chill. "Terrifier 2" is an ugly movie born in blood that somehow slithered onto the screens of an AMC theater near you. It is probably the closest you'll come to a contemporary horror film capturing the sickeningly sadistic glee of the grindhouse days. You've seen violent movies before, but this will seriously test your limits.

The first "Terrifier" features one of the most graphic kills you'll see in any horror movie. Art has one of his victims hung upside down with their legs spread open, and he proceeds to saw them in half. From groin to brain, you witness to every gory detail. If that was too much to stomach for you, skip the sequel. "Terrifier 2" finds more horrifically creative methods of mutilating the human body, discovering new and unfathomable limits.

The makeup effects in "Terrifier 2" are so unnerving because the kills themselves are often agonizingly slow. Art revels in the thrill of the kill, and forces you to experience it with him. Director Damien Leone places a heavy emphasis on practical effects, and they're astounding stuff. The incredibly talented makeup effects team deserves all the praise in the world for pulling these scenes off.

It would appear, however, that Leone himself has mixed feelings on the reports emanating from his film.

Damien Leone Doesn't Want People To Get Hurt

Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Leone says that while he was happy that "Terrifier 2" was doing well, he's not into the idea of his movie requiring the need of paramedics at movie theaters:

"Listen, I would have loved to have a couple of walk-outs, I think that's sort of a badge of honor because it is an intense movie [...] I don't want people fainting, getting hurt during the movie. But it's surreal. Here's the thing, it's called 'Terrifier 2,' you should probably see 'Terrifier 1' before you jump into this one. If you see 'Terrifier 1,' you'd know what you're getting into."

It's easy to see where Leone is coming from. It doesn't help if you walk into a sequel not knowing that its predecessor already pushed the limits of gore in horror movies.

But at the same time, both "Terrifier" films are a provocative spectacle, and Leone knows this. It's difficult for people to look at the reports and not want to go see what everyone is talking about. Those who aren't even familiar with the first "Terrifier" will want to see if its sequel lives up to the headlines. That's the nature of word-of-mouth, for better or worse.

The Kind Of Press That Turns Slasher Villains Into Household Names

Even if you've never seen a "Friday the 13th" or "A Nightmare on Elm Street" movie, you're likely familiar with Jason Voorhees and Freddy Kreuger through cultural osmosis alone. Folks who have never even heard of Art the Clown are rapidly becoming acquainted with the slasher's existence.

It all comes down to the look. Art checks all of the boxes regarding creepy killer clowns. He's got the white makeup, the floppy shoes, the face paint, and a jaunty disposition. Thornton is a force of nature in the costume, utilizing his expressive face to conjure an ordinary slasher into something uniquely memorable. Despite checking all of the clown prerequisites, the pantomime slasher never speaks. Even when he laughs, Art doesn't actually make a sound. It's Thornton's menacing grimace that ties it all together.

While "Terrifier 2" has been making the rounds for its graphic kills and the reactions that followed, it's also worth noting that the horror sequel has also been garnering positive reception from both critics and genre fans. The film's target audience actually likes the movie.

A Sequel That Rises Above The Original In Every Way

A common criticism lobbied against the original "Terrifier" was its lack of a story, coupled with its acts of misogynistic brutality. For 85 minutes, Art hacks and slashes his way through his victims, with little to tie it all together. "Terrifier 2," however, switches things up with the inclusion of Lauren LaVera's Sienna, a teenage girl who is actually propped up as a formidable challenger to Art's reign of terror. The film follows her story just as much as Art's, adding a supernatural intrigue as to what the demon clown could possibly be.

LaVera's performance is a massive step up from whatever the cast of "Terrifier" was doing the first time around, and it actually gives you someone to follow in the midst of all the carnage. Since slasher flicks are rarely (never!) as long as "Terrifier 2," the film has this disorientating effect where it makes you feel like you're slowly losing your mind as the depravity on screen unfolds. It's the kind of movie where every reaction -- anger, disgust, and amazement -- is an equally valid response.

You likely won't see another movie as dedicated to making you squirm in your seat this Halloween than Leone's demented horror show. "Terrifier 2" may or may not be a movie you like, but one thing's for sure: you will never forget it.

"Terrifier 2" is now playing in select theaters nationwide.

Read this next: Horror Movies That Even Horror Fans Could Hardly Finish

The post Why Terrifier 2 Is Almost Too Brutal For Some Horror Fans appeared first on /Film.