WARNING: Contains Mild Spoilers
On Halloween night, in the dark, dank depths of New York City, an ominous killer clown named Art, terrorises three women to brutal extremes.
Terrifier is an extension of writer/director Damien Leone’s 2013 short, All Hallow’s Eve, which cemented the first appearance of his maniacal, murderous clown. In Terrifier, Art is played by David Howard Thornton, having previously been portrayed by Mike Giannelli. Despite its Halloween setting, Terrifier isn’t distinctly evocative of the season, in the vein of ‘Trick r’ Treat’ (2007) or more recently, Todd Tucker’s ‘The Terror of All Hallow’s Eve’ (2017).
Instead, Terrifier is a gore drenched nightmare that wouldn’t appear out of place on a 42nd Street Cinema screen. The film is not for the faint hearted with its unimaginable level of gratuitous violence but sure will satisfy bloodthirsty consumers of gore. Terrifier opts for a trendy, 80’s style aesthetic despite being set in the present day. It’s title card is bold and in-your-face alongside a delicious synth score aiding its B-Movie quality
Leone achieves a menacing, yet nerve-shredding first act. The way Art preys on his victim’s veers into an uneasy oddness that bounds the audience into a paralyzing trance, anxious to see what he is capable of. The cuts between scenes of dialogue and shots of Art’s chilling rampage is edited in a slick fashion as it foreshadows what he is set to inflict on his new chosen victims, the conceited Dawn (Catherine Corcoran) and somewhat sensible, Tara (Jenna Kanell).
Tara’s studious sister, Victoria (Samantha Scaffidi) is also thrown into the mix when she becomes embroiled in locating the girls’ whereabouts. Leone serves up a decent dose of character development for them all, albeit brief, as the film rapidly shifts gears and becomes a spectacle of gory, violent set pieces, where at this point, the plot becomes throwaway.
Despite a promising start, that relishes in a sinister atmosphere and incorporates a bunch of tropes that conforms to the standard slasher concept; it becomes deflated as it sets out to be a generally nasty flick that goes the extra mile with its death scenes. It could quite literally be the definition of a ‘video nasty’, taking the audience to uncomfortable places with long lasting imagery of mutilated corpses. Leone strings together moments of relentless violence in the packaging of a classic slasher movie chase scene, which unfortunately becomes monotonous.
The special effects themselves are gut churning and grotesque, the work and detail that has gone into them deserves to be applauded. They certainly aren’t for the squeamish side. The kills are inventive to a point but viewing an onslaught of unrelenting, detailed violence reduces the impact, as I’m a firm believer in ‘less is more’.
Thornton does an excellent job in bringing Art to life. He is peculiar, highly menacing and upholds a bizarre level of ambiguity until he holds nothing back once he goes in for the kill! He will without a doubt resonate as a horror villain for those who have seen the movie, so far. Terrifier has potential however it feels too deliberately nasty to even be considered a black/horror comedy, even though its schlocky dialogue attempts to procure that kind of tone.
Terrifier was a film I had hoped to really like, but the fact that it pushes the envelope excessively in the violence stakes reduced my initial interest. It becomes too outlandish and inflicts too much carnage all at once, leaving the established build-up redundant. It’s clear that Terrifer is laying the groundwork for more to come and if that’s the case perhaps we will experience something less gore heavy and more unnerving next time around. It’s a film to take at face value when it comes down to it with no pretence at hand.
Its highly self-aware and knows what it sets out to achieve, with its deliberately mean-spirited ambience. Terrifier may not impress horror veterans but will offer something to fans who like to indulge in the extreme side of cinema.
Terrifier is distributed by Dread Central Pictures alongside Epic Pictures. It will be released in the UK on the 2nd of April, courtesy of Signature Pictures with a VOD release on the 30th March.