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“Terrifier 2” is making headlines with its shocking scenes of gore, but it surprises most with its risk-taking focus on story and characters.

I’m a newcomer to Damien Leone’s first feature-length film with Art The Clown as the main character, 2016’s Terrifier — a fun bit of vicious, gore-drenched clown mayhem. Terrifier stood out for two very specific things: the cleaving in half of a woman hanging upside-down and the sadistic killer Art The Clown (David Howard Thornton).

Art, belying the monochromatic color and simple clown makeup, is an absolutely terrifying image.

Art simultaneously looks like any other clown you’ve ever seen and unlike any clown you’ve ever seen. Aside from the out-of-control bloodlust and desire for wanton destruction, Art is simply the personification of weird — he looks off even when he’s still.

Art is in every way a version of Halloween’s Michael Myers/The Shape, down to the eerie silence. Unlike Michael, Art enjoys playing with his victims and revels in their pain while seeming to gain some power from their suffering as much as he does from their inevitable death.

Over the years, Terrifier has continued to draw in fans with a base of enthusiastic fans.

It’s been six long years, but writer/director Damien Leone has brought back Art The Clown for a 2-hour plus sequel that builds upon the best of the original film.

Terrifier 2 begins immediately after the events at the end of the first movie. Art has risen from the autopsy table and is collecting some items from the medical examiner’s office for his garbage bag of torture tools. Covered in blood, Art makes his way to a laundromat where we’re introduced to the franchise’s newest character, credited as The Little Pale Girl (Amelie McLain).

The Girl is a sort of mini-Art, encouraging his acts of violence and helping to taunt his victims. Is she a manifestation of Art’s psyche or a representation of an evil entity?

The movie moves ahead one year, on Halloween in Miles County. The murders from the previous year have become a source of town gossip, and Art has become a kind of boogeyman. One pre-teen, Jonathan (Elliott Fullam), appears to be obsessed with serial killers, Nazis, and Art, specifically to the chagrin of his older sister Sienna (Lauren LaVera) and their mother, Barbara (Sarah Voigt).

Jonathan expresses his desire to wear an Art costume for Halloween, which is shot down by Barbara. Sienna is designing her own Valkyrie-like costume.

Art and his smaller doppelganger are slashing their way through whomever they encounter as they make their way back to Miles County. Sienna begins to have dreams about Art and a surreal Clown Café. Jonathan’s obsession with things of dark nature is found to have a basis in the drawings of their recently deceased father.

The closer Art gets, a connection begins to be revealed between Sienna, Jonathan, and the evil clown.

Damien Leone makes a calculated decision for the sequel.

The shocking and most talked about scene from the first movie, the woman being sawed in half, is a gore scene that would be hard to top.

Leone doesn’t try, instead focusing on expanding the mythology of Art, introducing more supernatural aspects, and tethering Art to the movie’s final girl, Sienna, much like Michael is tethered to Laurie Strode.

Leone doesn’t go light on the gore, though. There are incredibly impressive effects and increasingly shocking and disgusting attacks by Art that are intense and make me believe the articles that note some audience members are throwing up during the movie.

What separates Terrifier 2 from the original movie is that Leone allows the story to breathe and grow. He invites the audience to get to know Sienna, Jonathan, and their mother Barbara.

You might think this slows down the movie when TERRIFIER 2 concentrates on the family and their interrelationship, but the story never loses steam and moves along briskly. You never feel like you’re watching a two-plus hour movie.

It’s no surprise to me that Terrifier 2 is having such box office success in a limited theatrical release.

Not only does Terrifier 2 satisfy the gore hounds, but it is also a fantastic horror movie that builds upon what’s come before, expands the scope of Art’s mythology, and leaves enough questions remaining to have fans thirsting for a third movie.

Terrifier 2 is one of the best horror movies of 2022, and that is a crowded field this year.

Horror fans have been lucky with the amazing amount of quality horror fans released this year and the box office success so many of them have had. Horror has never been stronger, I can’t think of a time that interest in horror has been so high.

And Damien Leone and Terrifier 2 are leading the bloody, innards-spilling charge.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 5

Following its very successful extended theatrical run, Terrifier 2 begins streaming exclusively on Screambox starting this Halloween (October 31, 2022).

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