Creepiness and Gore Loom Heavy in Terrifier
This film isn't perfect but still manages to hit all of the right notes.
By M.T. Bates
The killer clown horror trope is always a popular choice to really push the buttons of those fans who suffer from coulrophobia, so a few times a year you are sure to find a low-key movie that fits the mold. Some are deliciously terrifying, such as Clown, while others fall short and are dull like Stiches. Terrifier, however, finds a happy medium between those two movies and what we get is an entertaining, albeit confusing, flick starring a creepy murderous Pagliacci lookalike.
As this movie goes through its paces, it raises a lot of questions while you watch. The possible inclusion of supernatural elements is the main thing you can never quite figure out, at least until the end, but even that only creates more questions. Despite that, this movie offers many fun elements and does quite a bit right, but it does just enough wrong in its flaws to make it fall short of being a great film.
One problem this movie does not have is pacing. It starts off fast and never lets up, so you will never find yourself bored. From the very moment we are introduced to Art the Clown, you are pulled in and just want more of whatever the hell is going on in his world. Completely quiet, odd, and with a wicked smile, he embodies crazy and evil wonderfully.
Art is the star of the show for more than a few reasons, one of them being the rest of the cast is boring and forgettable, not to mention stupid. They are more stupid than your typical horror fodder, though Pooya Mohseni’s Cat Lady character stands out and is actually compelling. Despite casting her character aside when she first appeared, she does grow on you and has a clear purpose, which is more than you could say about the rest of the cast.
The movie progression is just a cat-and-mouse between killer and victims in some random building, which is fine because something like that is all you need in a slasher movie. Art clumsily stalks his prey mainly because they are too stupid to escape or fight back properly. Numerous characters on numerous occasions had opportunities to finish him off by either after knocking him out or injuring him, both of which never slowed him down an ounce, but they always opt to run away instead, prolonging their deaths for about two whole minutes.
So, if you decide to watch this flick, be prepared for a lot of stupid. However, each time Art does manage to become injured, he is able to silently convey his pain so convincingly. It is truly a treat to watch David Thornton’s portrayal and it is obvious that he had a blast behind the makeup. One scene in particular, which really comes out of left field, ramps up the creepiness factor to eleven, and that is mainly thanks to Thornton’s body language and movements, although some props in the scene did help a little.
The setting is some pseudo-abandoned building on Halloween night. It's cliché as all hell, but again, it's great when filmmakers are able to use simplicity in their favor and this setting accomplishes that. The body count is modest, but the kills are fun and the practical gore effects are fantastic, which more than makes up for the low body count (that isn't too low).
The simple setting unfortunately doesn’t do much to help elevate the rest of the characters, which is a shame. They all come off as very bland and simply not interesting in any way. The acting also leaves something to be desired, but with a film like this, that can be forgiven and even overlooked. This movie has its own charm and its name is Art.
So, who is Art? What is his deal? We don’t really know. It’s not a question that the movie even remotely attempts to answer. For the sake of this review, let's just say that Art is a crazy dude with a penchant for clowns, who also happens to be mute and has a bad dental plan. That sounds like a slasher villain to us!
Art remains mysterious until the very end of the movie, at which time the mystery actually grows more, which in turn makes the first few minutes of the movie even more confusing. It’s this odd circle of confusing storytelling that really holds this move back. Nothing is answered, which won’t leave every viewer feeling unfulfilled and that is a bit bothersome. For that reason, on top of the mostly forgettable cast, Terrifier falls short of being a great movie, but it definitely still is a good movie.
Art the Clown deserves a warm welcome to the horror family. Come for the gore; stay for the creepiness.
The acting leaves a lot to be desired. Why is everyone so stupid? Don’t try to piece together a story when it isn’t there.
With a solid soundtrack, a truly creepy atmosphere and villain, and wonderful practical effects, Terrifier really does deliver in the key areas that make a horror movie enjoyable. This is as fun as you can have when it comes to a popcorn and beer horror movie. Those looking for sound, believable acting and a coherent plot should look elsewhere, because you won’t find that here. However, a proper sequel (or prequel) could instantly solve a lot of the story issues with this film.