– By Steven Hickey
Damian Leone’s All Hallow’s Eve was one of those fantastic little discoveries that completely took me by surprise. It was a low budget indie anthology – one of literally dozens to find release over the past decade or so – that arrived with very little fanfare back in 2013, but it stood out from the crowd for one major reason.
Art the Clown.
The diabolical boogeyman of Leone’s film was, quite frankly, scary. Very, very scary..
Originally starring in Leone’s short films, The 9th Circle and Terrifier (both of which were edited in as segments of AHE) Art makes Pennywise look like Ronald McDonald.
Now Leone has given Art a feature length outing (also rather confusingly titled Terrifier) and fans will not be disappointed.
The plot is almost incidental – two friends on a Halloween night out encounter Art, lots of people get mutilated, the end – but that isn’t what this film is about. A suitably gruesome throwback to the 70s-80s heyday of splatter flicks, this is a film that exists purely to horrify and thrill. And it is pretty successful at doing so.
The cast is something of a mixed bag, but the bulk of the performers nail it.
Jenna Kanell is great as she channels Neve Campbell as the hapless-victim-turned-tough-survivor Tara, while Catherine Corcoran is excellent as Dawn, the cute and quirky bad girl you just know things will end badly for.
Elsewhere, Samantha Scaffidi delivers a solid performance as Victoria, making for an excellent central trio of female leads. All three are great actresses, who are likeable (and very easy on the eye), and charismatic enough to make their characters easy to root for.
However, it is David Howard Thornton who steals the show with his sinister silent performance as Art.
Stepping into Mike Gianelli’s oversized clown shoes, he brings his character to life with a fascinating mix of sinister, almost child-like glee and seething, barely restrained psychotic rage.
At times Thornton is almost funny – at others he really, really isn’t.
Of course a horror movie monster is only as good as the carnage he wreaks – and in this case Art practically lives up to his name as he paints the screen (and his previously pristine white suit) red. I don’t want to spoil the gore highlights for those that want to keep the surprises intact, but rest assured, terrible things happen to a number of human bodies – often in sickening and graphic detail. Credit must go to the excellent practical effects team for their gloriously nasty work.
It isn’t just the blood and guts that look fantastic – the film wears its grindhouse aesthetic with pride, and cinematographer George Steuber makes it look like a seedy, throwback a la William Lustig’s infamous Maniac. The film may feature mobile phones and modern technology, but Terrifier is an Eighties movie at heart, and it’s all the better for it.
At this point it may seem as if Terrifier is a simple splatter flick, but that isn’t the case. While the plot is simple it still manages to pack in some nifty surprises, and Leone once again shows an assured director’s eye and a real knack at crafting suspense.
He walks a fine line with this film, bordering on the blackest of humour in some scenes before descending into very serious, very horrifying atrocities in the next, but Leone does not put a foot wrong.
Sure, maybe I would have liked to see the supernatural elements of Art’s story that we glimpsed in All Hallow’s Eve expanded upon, but even when Leone gives Art the role of a more traditional boogeyman, the results are still superb. Besides, who’ to say we won’t get that in a sequel? Fingers crossed!
To conclude, Terrifier serves as an excellent example of the talent working in the Indie Horror field, a lean mean alternative to the teen-friendly fare churned out by the likes of Blumhouse, and it thoroughly deserves to find a wider audience. With a UK DVD release on 2nd April, it has the opportunity to do just that.
I thoroughly recommend you check this decidedly nasty little gem out – no clowning around.