31 Days of Horror: Terrifier (2016) – REVIEW

It’s an odd thing when you encounter a film that has very little going for it and yet still manages to be reasonably enjoyable to watch. I couldn’t tell you anything that would make me watch Terrifier again, but did I have fun with it. It may have lacked in many areas, but it did have a certain something about it that meant I couldn’t turn it off.

On Halloween night, a sadistic killer known as Art the Clown (David Howard Thornton) goes on a murderous rampage.

That’s literally it.


Terrifier was a strange experience

It is probably the best instance of ‘the lights are on but nobody’s home’ I’ve ever seen when it comes to film. In other words, there was plenty to look at, but there really wasn’t a fat lot happening. There was no storyline at all here. It was purely a night in the life of this clown fella who clearly had a lot of issues. As to why, we never find out. This isn’t a film that bothered itself with character development. It simply threw a number of individuals into a situation, and it was up to you whether you went along for the ride or not.

If you, dare I say, embrace this, however, you will find some reward in the form of blood and guts. Given the type of character Terrifier follows, there is obviously a significant body count, and each one that is tacked up bites the bullet in a different way. Some are more creative than others, but there is definitely variety in how each of Art’s victims meet their end. Again, we never know why he does it – this isn’t like with Jigsaw where he tries to teach those he kills a lesson. He just kills in whatever way he sees fit. But, like I said, he does have a certain panache, which kind of makes up for all the boxes the film doesn’t tick.


How scary can a clown be?

As far as Art himself goes, he is actually a fairly creepy clown. He definitely gets a thrill from what he’s doing, and it’s this plus his overall look that gives him such a menacing air. The added bonus was that he always stood out due to the high contrast aesthetic Terrifier has. The black and white suit and make-up meant the focus was always on him, almost as if to highlight what a predator he was. However, the film tries a bit too hard when it comes to the scare stakes with this guy, and he becomes more of a cartoonish villain by the end.

Perhaps the one thing that worked for this film in an entirely unironic capacity was the score. It was mainly electronic (I can’t believe I’m mentioning it in the same breath as this but think something along the lines of Drive), and it really suited the grunginess that this low-budget urban affair had. It fit the action perfectly, and was exactly the kind of soundtrack I’d imagine was playing in Art’s head as he was getting down to business.


The heart wants what the heart wants

Despite everything it didn’t have and the many faults it definitely did, I… enjoyed Terrifier? Let’s get this absolutely straight – this is by no means a good film. At a stretch, it is completely average, but I had fun with it. Depraved fun? Possibly, but fun all the same. There is very little going on on the surface, and even less beneath it, but there are pretty colours, blood and guts, and an absolutely mental clown murderer. I will probably never revisit this film, but I don’t feel hard done by following this viewing. How bizarre.

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