Directed by: Damien Leone
Distributed by: Signature Entertainment
Written by Jeff Sparks
The question posed by the slasher film “Terrifier” is “Does cinema need another silent murderer?” Director Damien Leone answers that question with his creation of the film’s villain, Art The Clown. In “Terrifier,” Art terrorizes a young woman (Jenna Kanell) and her friends (Catherine Corcoran and Samantha Scaffidi) on Halloween night as part of his annual massacre. Although that setup sounds very similar to other slasher films, especially “Halloween,” “Terrifier” couldn’t be more different due to the incredible portrayal of Art by David Howard Thornton. In his first feature film, Thornton took the reigns of Leone’s character and made “Terrifier” a memorable film instead of just another horror movie about a guy in a mask. Unlike the other countless emotionless killers in horror such as Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees, Art is extremely emotive and responsive to his victim’s actions. He may not talk like Pennywise from “IT,” but Art similarly engages in sadistic mind games that go beyond the brutality shown by the other killer clown. Art teases and taunts his victims, even celebrating to himself after a kill. Also unlike his peers, Art uses multiple weapons ranging from knives to pistols from his bag of “tricks” that he carries with him. A lot of actors could play any one of the mute killers that horror has (nine have played Michael Myers) but due to his expressive nature, not many could play Art as well as Thornton.
Unlike the character of Art, “Terrifier” as a whole isn’t all great. Without Thornton as Art, the film would likely be like any other low-budget slasher you might find on a service like Shudder. Although Kanell is pretty good as the lead, the rest of the cast leaves much to be desired. When Kanell’s character exits the film halfway through it becomes noticeably less interesting as we watch Art chase around less formidable actors. The film itself also isn’t anything you haven’t seen before. Leone doesn’t try to do anything new or clever, nor does he avoid many tropes or cliches. As for the effects on Art’s murder spree, most of them are good enough, especially since they’re practical instead of distracting CGI. Leone’s film may not be great, but David Howard Thornton’s portrayal of Art The Clown makes it worthwhile.