Movie review: Terrifier (2018)


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Nerd time: Terrifier’s title font screams 1980s exploitation. It delivers on this big time.

Movie review: Terrifier (2018)

Cast

  • Jenna Kanell as Tara
  • Samantha Scaffidi as Victoria
  • David Howard Thornton as Art the Clown
  • Catherine Corcoran as Dawn
  • Pooya Mohseni as Cat Lady
  • Matt McAllister as Mike the Exterminator
  • Katie Maguire as Monica Brown
  • Gino Cafarelli as Steve
  • Cory Duval as Coroner
  • Michael Leavy as Will the Exterminator
  • Director: Damien Leone

No spoilers

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Well hellooo there. Everyone, meet Art the Clown. He’s nucking futs.

It’s a dark and dirty Halloween night. On TV a talk show hostess interviews a horribly mutilated girl. Two other girls are out on the streets, dressed in super-slutty costumes for the night, and now walking home in the dark. They drop into a friendly pizzeria to commiserate over their evening. But they’ve caught the attention of a terrifying clown carrying a highly suspicious black rubbish sack, and now those two girls are in his sights. I don’t think he’s playing, ladies. Oh yes, something very, very bad is going to happen this evening…and trust us, this clown makes Michael Myers look like My Little Pony.

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Just a perfectly safe walk home on Halloween. Right?

When ‘Art’ the clown begins the hunt it’s not long before there’s blood and body parts all over the place. As our heroines try to escape, his kills get very twisted and extremely nasty. Art is a memorable horror villain, able to make you squirm and laugh and scream simultaneously. He treats everything as a joke, but the joke’s deadly serious. Once he sets his sights on you, you’d best run for it and pray for morning. This is actually really good, with some real tension and engaging characters who are mostly quite sympathetic. I honestly cared what happened to them, despite some paper-thin writing. The film even has the sense to give the background characters some halfway-decent dialogue, which makes them feel a little more alive before they’re added to the body-count. But don’t get too attached to anyone, as you can always trust Art to do the worst thing. And oh man, it gets pretty fucking bad…

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Eep.

Terrifier is a short, nasty trip into horror; a bloody, gleeful return to those graphically violent, gonna-get-you-for-no-reason exploitation films from the 1970s and ’80s. This throwback knows its roots and thank goodness, the special effects have come a long way. So be warned. It gets unapologetically gross, and even upsetting to anyone who has a shred of empathy left – even after too many horror films, but the horror genre excels at pushing boundaries. It should sometimes be just about using amazing special effects work to generate a disgusted ‘what did I just see?’ reaction from the bloody-thirsty horror-fan audiences. It’s so over the top it’s kind of…funny? Or is that just this Eyeball’s view? It’s all about perspective, guys.

So watch Terrifier for a front row seat to full-on Grand Guignol, if that’s your thing, because Terrifier knows exactly who it’s aiming this at. Namely, those with strong stomachs. But if you don’t have a strong stomach, then you’d better run for the exits before Art the Clown locks you in with him for the night, and hide before he gets out his rusty, blood-spattered saw…

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You can run, but can you hide?

Spoilers (including for Bone Tomahawk)

Within the first few minutes, you know what you’re in for. If anything, at least the TV host (and the viewer) has learned a valuable lesson about mocking the unfortunate…yikes.

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That poor girl…

If you stick around after that, then you’re either hopeful that some cuddly puppies to snuggle will appear soon, or you’re seriously enjoying what it promised. It delivers. It’s nasty. It’s also seriously tongue in cheek. It’s a horror, it’s not real, people. Doesn’t mean you can’t gasp and wince and scream ‘look behind you!’ Oh, and there’s a very frustrating scene where the final girl (at that point) doesn’t keep hitting him, in a much-deserved beat-down, before he gets a chance to shoot her. I mean, he SHOOTS HER. That has to be cheating. Then again, he is a bad guy. The only bullets going in him, it turns out, are by his own hand. Otherwise he’s having way too much fun, and we’re just along for the ride.

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It’s over, right? Right??

Art the clown has plenty of fun, his murdering delights in surprising us with how far he’ll go. The kill with the saw is possibly misogynistic, though I would rather read it as pushing extremes than that to be honest – again, we all know why we’re here. It’s acknowledged as a seriously horrible way to go, a companion to the hideously realistic scene in Bone Tomahawk, and it’s nowhere near as graphic as that (I think, I think I might have been looking through my fingers by that point…), but the IMPLICATIONS, oh nooooo. Legs are still crossed thinking about it. This level of nasty, of what I’d actually call torture porn, is how I thought the first Saw and the Hostel movies would be. They seemed more like survival horrors. Terrified has them both beat!

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Ohhh, oh, noooooooo….

Art the terrifying clown has cemented his place as an exciting new horror villain apparent and his undead properties should see him surviving for many sequels. Still, I’d like to see him go head to head with Jason Voorhees, or Ash Williams and a chainsaw. Let’s raise a glass to the next final girl…may she survive with just her mind scarred next time.

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Clown, Dark alley. Suspicious sack. Broken car. Time to get an Uber, not pizza….

Further information here about Art and the other films he appears in. Be warned, the plot entry basically outlines the whole story in detail!

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A fetching ‘wig’, for a psycho clown.

The good

  • Art the Clown’s fucking terrifying makeup. They finally found something creepier than the Joker himself.
  • The buildup where Art stalks them at the pizzeria is uneasy and hilarious
  • Deliriously over the top gore once it gets going.
  • The nastiest kill of all, the bit with the upside down girl and the rusty saw! (winces).
  • Well, seems like Art will return, as even eating a bullet can’t keep him down. Even if there’s no sequel, he’s still out there, somewhere, getting ready for this Halloween…
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There’s no comng back from this…

The Bad

  • Threadbare and gore is almost too gratuitous
  • The gleefully nasty kill with the saw might just be your breaking point. (Or not, you wonderful freaks, I don’t know ya..)
  • FFS woman, keep hitting him before he shoots you! Which, by the way, is hella CHEATING, Art. You, you evil clown, you….
  • Art’s incredible regenerative powers really come out of nowhere, though it suggests something stranger than just a slasher is going on.
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