‘Terrifier’ is the newest movie from Damien Leone and from its cover, name and pull quotes promise things that I’m all about. Based on a short of the same name from the anthology flick “All Hallow’s Eve”, is one of those movies you see all over horror twitter/facebook/whatever your social media poison is – dozens of posts about it, people praising it, you sitting there going “how the hell didn’t I hear about this movie before now if it’s so impressive?” ‘Terrifier’ certainly looks like something I’d be very into at first glance, what with it’s promises of clown-based gore but unfortunately I found it to be more window dressing than substance. I mean, it does deliver heavily on the kills and gore, but at the end of the day if that’s all you’re bringing to the table I’m going to start looking around pretty once the new and shiny feeling starts to wear off a bit.
Everything start out fine, with the story following two young women on Halloween on their way home from a party. Deciding that drunk driving isn’t cool (uh, because it isn’t) the two decide they need to get some food to help them sober up. The man of the hour, Art the clown, makes an appearance less than fifteen minutes in, so you don’t need to play the waiting game to get to the money shot. I should have maybe taken this early reveal of the centrepiece to be a warning though, but I didn’t quite clue in yet. We’re treated to some standard “drunk girls” dialogue that feels very much written by a dude as the girls discuss how the clown starring at them from across the road freaks them out, before one of them decides yelling at the full grown man in greasepaint is a good idea. That kind of shit never ends badly. Art then disappears when they look away, and the girls seem a little more unconcerned than I would be with a strange clown pulling a disappearing act on a dark city street act but hey, we aren’t here for a logical story. The girls make their way to a nearby pizza shop to get some food and sober up, quickly discovering that they’ve been followed by the clown here as well. We watch as the Art sits across from them, egging on the girls with fiendish smiles and strange behaviour before the owner intervenes (something I’m sure he regrets shortly), setting off the rest of the movie. The girls leave, the clown starts his killing spree with the pizza shop owners and we are in full gory swing. The rest of the movie is essentially a cat and mouse game between the clown, the girls and the unfortunate bystanders who get pulled into this All Hallow’s slaughter.
I’ve gotta say that the people who made ‘Terrifier’ spent the time to find an actor to inhabit the clown and make him freaky and memorable, because he is exactly that. Art’s (such an unassuming name right?) lanky movement and wide toothy smile are the stuff of nightmares, and the monochromatic costume adds a bit of a dream-like element to him that I dig. Unfortunately this movie feels like they put all the eggs in the clown basket, hoping that his admittedly freaky performance would carry the story through to the end, a long 86 minutes later. The gore side of things is impressive and it’s a good thing because beyond a freaky looking clown, thats’s all this movie has. There’s some gags in here that Herschel Gordon Lewis would be proud of for sure, with gratuitous shots of mangled human forms and kill shots aplenty. Once you’ve seen “the big one” (for lack of a better term) though, it’s all downhill as you wait out the clock on the drawn out conclusion. I felt it was too late in the game that we’re suddenly expected to listen to or care about expository dialogue spat out by characters introduced to us literally three minutes previous, at least for a movie that had defined itself up to this point as all about the gore. You can’t have it both ways, so something about making your bed and sleeping in it I guess?
‘Terrifier’ isn’t terrible as long as you’re prepared to watch what amounts to a kill reel and as long as you are prepared with some beers and a couple gore loving friends to turn to when things get a bit tired and played out you should be fine. Don’t go in looking for the Pennywise killer that the cover promises though because this just isn’t that movie.
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