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Terrifier 2

(2022, Leone)
A film that starts with the letters S or T

"They used me to get you here. They need you in this place for a reason."
"Why are you saying that?"
"It's what Daddy saw. I think you're the only one who can stop him."
"I don't know."

Directed and written by Damien Leone, the original Terrifier came out in 2016, featuring the maniacal Art the Clown (David Howard Thornton), a character that has been featured in all but one of Leone's short and feature films. The film became a moderate hit among fans of horror and gore, me included. I thought it did a great job of subverting some tropes and adding a few twists to the genre, while delivering with the violence and gore.

Starting immediately after its predecessor, Terrifier 2 follows Art the Clown again as he is mysteriously resurrected. A year later, he sets out on another killing spree, this time mostly focused on Sienna (Lauren LaVera) and her brother, Jonathan (Elliot Fullam). But can Sienna stop him once and for all? I don't know, she doesn't know, and neither does the film; or at least they don't want to tell us yet.

With the original Terrifier being as successful as it was, it was expected that Leone would follow up with a sequel. This time, with a bigger budget (from $35,000 to $250,000), a bigger runtime (from 86 to 138 minutes), and a more ambitious storyline. Unfortunately, as is usually the case, bigger doesn't always equate to better.

For the most part, Terrifier 2 delivers and/or improves in all the areas that the original excelled in. The production values are significantly higher, the special effects and the gore is wickedly good, and the cast is likable even if the performances aren't top-notch. One performance that does stand out, though, is Thornton who is amazing. The way he uses his body language and face expressions to instill that sense of dread and terror mixed with dark humor is amazing. He is easily the film's biggest asset.

However, whereas the original was a lean, 86 minute slasher with what seemed to be a simple premise and little to no fat to it, this one attempts to establish a bigger mythology surrounding the characters; something I have no issue with, if it managed to deliver on any of it. As it is, it teases a bunch of hints about Sienna's past, Art's motivations, and their connection, but it rarely follows through, making for a somewhat unsatisfying experience.

I'm all for throwing breadcrumbs and hints for future films, but in this case, pretty much everything feels like a set-up for the inevitable Terrifier 3 (Yes, it is already in pre-production). It is still a very accomplished horror film, with a lot on its favor, but since there are so many things that don't have a proper payoff, it can't help but feel a bit overlong, a bit overstuffed, a bit puzzling, and a bit frustrating.