Director: Damien Leone
Year of release: 2018
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 81 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: Both
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: Art the Clown first made himself known in a couple of shorts which were later incorporated into an anthology type film which was sort of a mix of horror and slasher called All Hallows Eve. This was followed by All Hallows Eve The Reaping but despite appearing on the packaging (UK packaging at least), Art as far as I can recall wasn't actually in the film. Now however Art is back and for the first time takes center stage as the only villain in a full length movie. The plot here starts off by following two girls Tara and Dawn on Halloween night who after attending a party find themselves too drunk to safely drive home. In an effort to sober up they order food at a nearby pizza place. Just before this and then again inside the shop the girls encounter Art, a freaky looking mime clown who is carrying around a large black bin bag which he has filled unbeknownst to the girls with various weapons. Art though never speaking a word takes a shine to Tara, much to Dawn's amusement who thinks he is just a harmless drunk dressed up for Halloween. Tara is more disconcerted however and finds the attention uncomfortable. Later on after returning to their vehicle they find one of the tires has been damaged. With no means of getting home Tara calls her sister who agrees to come and pick them up. While waiting Dawn remains in the car while Tara needing the toilet ducks into a nearby building after sweet talking a pest control worker. While inside however she runs into Art once more who's demeanor has changed from playful to deadly. He is soon terrorizing both girls and anyone else who crosses his path. Upon arrival Tara's sister Victoria is also drawn into the nightmare.
Good points: Art the Clown is a terrific creation managing to look both intimidating and freaky in equal measure but doing so without being the big and bulky type in the Jason or Myers mold. In fact he actually looks kind of skinny but it plays into his creep factor and goes to his advantage. Davis Howard Thornton does a tremendous job in bringing the monster to life and in this case in a similar vein to some classic boogeymen like Jason and Myers he does it all through his actions as opposed to speaking. Indeed being a mime clown he doesn't say a word so if you are turned off by some of the more vocal killers like Chucky or Freddy then you will most likely enjoy Art who never strays into that territory. The black and white outfit and mask/face paint are very good as well and combine to create a frightening looking figure.
The characters of Tara and Dawn that we meet near the start are instantly likeable and come across as very genuine and real in their dialogue and banter with each other and in Dawn's case with Art. These two characters, in particular Tara who I assumed was being built up as the final girl at this point were so strong that it was disappointing and painful almost when the film changed direction and snatched them away from us. More on that later but to start with anyway the film got in spot on with these two protagonists.
Terrifier has a dark, menacing and brooding vibe running through it which I liked. It is relentlessly brutal and doesn't really let up and try and balance it out with comedy as after the initial scenes in the pizza place it plays things very straight. To me this is a positive as although I can appreciate some of the come comedic slashers I prefer it when they pass over laughs and instead go for the jugular.
In one small piece of continuity it was nice how they had Art smear faeces on the walls in the pizza shop bathroom as I think that may have been something he was purported to have done in All Hallows Eve. It has been a while since I saw that though so hopefully I'm getting that correct.
The kills and the gore effects are excellent and play a role in the dark nature of the film that I mentioned before. There is a bit of variety in the violence with several different weapons being used with a saw and a gun being just two examples. It is the practical effects though that really elevate the film in this area and bring these scenes to life (so to speak). Pretty much all the kills and violence in general looks great and is very gruesome and bloody and with the possible exception of one scene never goes too far straying into cartoon territory.
Bad Points: Big spoiler in this point. For me after the early death of Dawn and even more so after the shooting of Tara the film dropped off a tiny bit and started to slide just a little bit downhill after a fantastic opening. I still liked it after this point, liked it a lot in fact but Tara and Dawn were so relatable I had begun to feel attachment and was expecting to be rooting for one or both for much longer so to be deprived of that was disappointing. It is good to be surprised in a film I guess as I was here with Tara's death but her sister Victoria who then took over as final girl felt like a bit of a stranger and as such I didn't feel as invested in her situation.
I wasn't keen on the character of the crazy homeless woman. I felt as if she brought almost a surreal aspect to the film which I didn't care for especially when Art cut off her breasts to prance around with. This reminded me of Marilyn Manson from the Dope Show video and was a visual I could have done without. I think he was supposed to have scalped her and taken her hair as well but she only appeared to be missing a portion of her hair yet Art was sporting a full wig. Maybe they were worried that we wouldn't reconginse her if she appeared to us completely without any hair.
This is a very small thing but at one point Art had Tara tied to a chair and was threatening her with various weapons which I didn't like as it was too close to torture porn for my taste.
There are a couple of parts which some viewers may find annoying where someone has Art injured and temporarily down only to try and escape and not finish him off. This is something we see in a lot of slasher/horror films I know and it doesn't bother me too much but for those that get frustrated by it they may be bugged by it occurring here.
Spoiler here. I thought Victoria's face looked a bit odd after we learned she survived and was the girl right at the start on the chat show. Just didn't look right to me and was perhaps one of the very few things that did descend just a little into cartoon territory despite what I said earlier. I think they over did that a little bit. Similarly it was unrealistic that Mike seemed to be walking around completely unharmed only a short while after being bopped on the head with a hammer.
Verdict: A really impressive outing for Art in his first film all to himself. It definitely left me wanting more so hopefully a franchise could be blooming. If so next time I would like to learn more about his origins and back story which considering how much damage he can sustain may be supernatural. It would be interesting to find out how he came by these supernatural attributes. Anyway I've heard that Art has been compared to the likes of Leatherface and Michael Myers etc and though it is still early days after just two films I don't think the comparison is unfounded. He is already creeping up to that level for me and I think if he had come along in the eighties he would have been a sensation. I think the film here was too quick to change direction and focal points from Tara to Victoria but even after this it remained hugely entertaining and I would recommend to any horror or slasher fans. This squeaks a nine for me as despite the scattered problems it is on point for the most part and when it is good it is very good indeed.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1) Chat show host (Monica?): Not sure if this woman actually died or was just left disfigured but she was attacked by Victoria with fingers being plunged into her eyes.
2) Pizza shop owner: Decapitated off camera, head turned into a kind of jack o lantern.
3) Other worker at pizza shop: Part of hand cut off and then stabbed multiple times in the head/face.
4) Dawn: Hung upside down and then sawn almost in half from the crotch down.
5) Tara: Shot in the leg and then in the face.
6) Will: Throat cut and then head cut off as well and punted out of the shot.
7) Crazy lady: Breasts and part of her scalp cut off though we don't actually see her die. We know from chat show at the start though that Victoria was the only survivor so she must have died.
8) Mike: Head crushed by being stomped on after he had already been injured with a hammer.
9) Coroner: Didn't actually get killed on screen but he was grabbed around the neck by Art as things ended so presumably he would have died.