Terrifier (Damien Leone, 2016, USA)

Terrifier has entered the pantheon of modern horror classics, largely due to the film's villain - Art the Clown. Art the Clown is the evil clown to end all evil clowns. As portrayed by David Howard Thornton, he is a silent figure whose sole purpose seems to be to inflict as much pain upon others as possible. This is largely reflective of Terrifier as a whole. The film has received renewed interest due to the success of its sequel, Terrifier 2, which is supposedly an improvement over the original. Terrifier is a mean, nasty little film - it certainly wouldn't be out of place to call the film "torture porn."

While there is not much to write about Terrifier in terms of characterization or story (something acknowledged by writer/director Damien Leone), the film is much more of a mood piece. From its opening pulsing synthesizer score, the film seems to be taking inspiration from wild and sometimes incoherent slashers of the 1980s, such as Maniac. The film is essentially a platform for Art the Clown to murder his victims in often creative ways (strangely enough, he does use a pistol at one point - something uncharacteristic of other horror icons).

The highlight of the film is David Howard Thornton's performance as Art the Clown, and it is clear to see why it has become so popular. There is a physicality to the role that is reminiscent of early silent film classics. Even those who don't have a fear of clowns might find Art unsettling, as there is something deeply disturbing about him. Perhaps, unfortunately, the filmmakers have decided to make him a supernatural character. In some ways, the film would be more effective had been left as a flesh-and-blood human, but perhaps the film's sequel will improve on this point.



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