Terrifier (2016)
January 8, 2023 9:44 PM - Subscribe

On Halloween night, a mysterious drifter dressed as a clown launches a gruesome and apparently unmotivated reign of terror.
posted by kittens for breakfast (2 comments total)
Streaming (with ads) on the Roku Channel, among other places. Its 2022 sequel is streaming free (with your library card) on Hoopla Digital.

This movie wasn't on my radar at all until its sequel became the surprise success of 2022. I vaguely knew of the existence of Terrifier, but frankly it looked like some bullshit intended for people whose main passions in life are watching pro wrestling and doing whippets. It kind of is that, as it turns out, but in some actually wonderful way that spoke to the juvenile delinquent buried deep in the heart of this very old horror fan.

Why does Art the Clown do the things he does? Why do any of the things that happen in Terrifier happen at all? I don't think I'm remiss in conjuring the spectre of Mark Twain, who wrote of his Huckleberry Finn, "Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot." Is Terrifier a work of art on a par with Huckleberry Finn? It is not, but I believe its makers shared a goal with the esteemed Mr. Twain: to pay off their no doubt considerable debts by producing an entertainment that people would happily spend their money on. This effort succeeds.

I am disconcerted by the misogyny Art displays in a few of his kills ("oh, my vagina!" writes a Letterboxd critic), but I don't think Art is meant as a role model, obviously, and I think it's important that we feel anything could happen. Art is a fascinating villain, apparently mute (he doesn't even cry out in pain when wounded, though his mouth opens in a silent scream), moving with the litheness of a ballet dancer. Like Michael Myers, Art seems to be a force of nature, detached from motivation other than to inflict pain and cause chaos -- there is an intriguing suggestion that he may be kind of a child inside -- but he's also clearly a flesh and blood person, albeit a very resilient one. Without spoilers, I was shocked by how Art (and the film) broke the unwritten genre rules at crucial junctures, and really excited to find myself watching a film that I (for a time) could not predict. It's quite exhilarating to watch a horror movie where no one has plot armor, where it seems anyone can die at any time...but too much of can cause the audience to disengage, and I think that happens in the last act, when I found myself a little ready to wrap it up.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:12 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]

Kiddo and I saw this in a brief back-in-theaters event last night. I thought it was good, but I wonder if I would have liked it had I not seen the sequel first. Having seen 2 first, I knew there was weird mythological stuff going on around the edges whereas if I'd seen this first, I might have dismissed it as aimless viciousness.

It's gory as FUCK and anyone who suspects they'd hate it is probably right.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:26 PM on July 20

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