Halloween may be in our rearview mirror, but I saw quite a few movies that I wanted to talk about! After all, if Christmas can start encroaching on the months leading up to it, why can’t Halloween bow out with a bit of fanfare? Was this a great year for spooky movies and frightful flicks, or was this crop of films as disappointing as getting a rock while Trick-or-Treating? Let’s find out!!
Terrifier 2 is owned by Bloody Disgusting
Directed by Damien Leone
One year after the horrific events of the first film, Art the Clown (David Howard Thornton) is back and ready to turn another Halloween into an unfathomable blood bath. This time around, however, he’s accompanied by a young girl in clown makeup (Amelie McLain) who is egging him on further and seemingly in the direction of Sienna (Lauren LaVera) who’s having strangely prophetic dreams about the killer while her brother Jonathan (Elliott Fullam) is becoming obsessed with last year’s killings. With such a nightmarish and cheekily-obnoxious villain on the loose, will anyone survive this Halloween with their sanity, and organs, intact?
It’s the 2022 Little Indie Film That Could as everyone in horror circles started talking this one up throughout October, and for the most part the enthusiasm is warranted. For me, the first one suffered from a very straightforward and uninspired narrative that was only salvaged by the interesting new villain at the heart of it, Art the Clown; truly a monster for our time. What we have with this film is exactly the kind of thing you want from a sequel as it bolsters what worked about the original but is unafraid to take things in new directions. The rather one-note grungy aesthetic of the first film got old fast, even with the absurd escalation of violence, and thankfully they improved greatly on that with a new vibrant coat of paint that makes the set pieces far more interesting, and there’s a depth to storytelling that allows for more than just picking off victims one after the other. Art gets to have a bit more personality and we see more of his internal machinations between violent murders, and Thornton’s eerie performance that’s one part Pennywise and nine parts Reddit Troll keeps his scenes compelling without allowing the film to twist things too far to his perspective as I did genuinely root for the cast of characters here who were caught in the crosshairs. Where the movie will gain its infamy will be the gore scenes which are at least a little more tasteful than they were in the first one, but are still some of the bloodiest and nastiest kills we’ve seen in quite a while, and it certainly helps that there’s more context here that gives some weight to the kills. Where the first film’s pacing stopped dead at the halfway point, this one manages to keep things escalating all the way to the bitter end. The film is a huge improvement in terms of tone, cinematography, and ambition, but where it falls short is in its writing which, as I said is much improved with solid characters and more creative set pieces, but it also feels rather amateurish. It’s a testament to the value of good nuts and bolts writing when you don’t even notice the movie establishing its characters, rules, and boundaries, and this movie is in too much of a hurry to show off that it keeps contradicting itself or leaves very basic things far too ambiguous. You could argue that it’s another feature and not a bug, that the unfiltered imagination of its creator is far more interesting than any number of overly polished horror remakes. I can get somewhat behind that given how out-there the movie is and that it at least partially operates on dream logic, but abstraction and symbolism are not the antitheses of coherent narratives and there are mistakes here that feel more to do with inexperience or carelessness than ambition. Perhaps the example that stuck out the most for me was how the movie could never settle on the age for its main character; a seemingly inconsequential point, but one that sticks out like a sore thumb when you consider how few other movies stumble over such a question. With a better aesthetic, more varied locations to wreak havoc in, and an imaginative spirit that grows the narrative far outside the confines of the original, this is definitely a sequel that gives you more to chew on and I’d say that it’s worth your time if you’re looking for something outside of mainstream horror offerings. Still, I feel there’s a ways to go for this series to truly live up to its potential and I hope that the creators are using their time in the spotlight to grow as filmmakers.Continue reading “Cinema Dispatch: Terrifier 2, Halloween Ends, and The Munsters”