Terrifier (2017)

I have a long history of hating clowns, a rivalry that I really like to promote when I can. Clowns are scary entities largely because of their over the top appearance and the uncanny valley. As a young, mostly shy kid, I was the antithesis of in-your-face and I have never really liked anybody in my personal space. With my anxiety issues, that personal space always expanded far beyond what most people would consider reasonable. When I went to the circus or birthday parties, seeing these clowns getting up in kids’ business made me really nervous. I did not want to engage with a stranger and these strangers were paid to engage with kids so I did my best to avoid it. The same goes for mascots in stadiums and amusement parks. I would cringe and start to feel the beginnings of fight or flight and my heart would beat faster until the situation passed. I do not remember really having any interactions with clowns but I also did my best to avoid them. Born from social anxiety, that fear grew and to this day I still avoid them if I can. However, I will be eternally fascinated by their aesthetic.

Another part of why I always felt nervous around clowns is that they are often always silent. As somebody who was already nervous dealing with people, I think the idea of dealing with somebody who was not explaining themselves, In addition, when somebody is not talking, it is easy to feel that they are also not listening. Also, as I discussed a bit in The Neon Demon review, silence is inherently scary on its own. I am not a big fan of silence in general. Having grown up as a city boy, I was accustomed to sirens and traffic as my lullabies. My life had a constant soundtrack so whenever it was quiet, it signaled that something was wrong. Of course, that was eventually fixed somewhat by attending Quaker meeting and living out in the boonies for five years. However, when you are waiting for something bad to happen, there is nothing worse than silence. That is my theory on why the blood lab that I went to recently plays inane talk shows in their waiting room. It is hard to be too scared when there is so much inane noise going on.

I have seen quite a few slasher movies at this point so I have seen a lot of the variations. When something new is presented, I consume it eagerly. That was the case with this movie. On its surface, this is a simple concept and a simple plot. Art the Clown just really likes killing people and proceeds to do so. The movie plays on the usual fears of clowns that I highlighted above. Art is absolutely silent and that ended up being way more terrifying than I thought it would be. David Howard Thornton plays Art and he is obviously an actor’s actor. He brings style and art to what could have been a forgettable performance in a forgettable movie. Like I said, the actor stays absolutely silent throughout but he apparently had some training in mime because his movement tells such a story. He is at once scary, funny, and confusing as he glides silently through the movie. His makeup and design enhance this as they created something that you might see a horror cosplayer make but is also deeply unsettling. He uses the greasepaint and the prosthetics to his full advantage to create a fascinating picture in every frame he is in. When so many of my favorite horror villains have witty catchphrases, it was refreshing to see one who could do the same with just a look.

The effects in this movie were absolutely fantastic. Setting aside the aforementioned brilliant costuming, the rest of the effects are eye-catching. I was immediately amazed by the gore effects in this movie which are extensive. Everything looked practical and everything oozed and sprayed. It was very visceral but it was also so much blood that it felt unreal and it did not rattle me as much as I thought it would. It is basically the Deadpool effect where violence gets to a cartoonish level. Of course, maybe I have seen so many horror movies at this point that I am a little inured to the violence. Of course, part of it was that the violence was actually a relief. What really got me was the long periods between the kills where I had no idea what Art was going to do next or when he would pop up. The tension absolutely destroyed me for most of the movie and I felt like I never relaxed from start to finish. Part of that is that Art is just so blatant in his actions. There are jump scares, sure but that was not what made this one rattle me. It had a refreshing psychology to it.

Overall, I really loved this movie. It took a lot of old tropes and twisted them a bit to create something that felt fresh and new. I cringed at every death but I thought that it felt like it did new things with the genre. It should instantly make Art the Clown into a new horror icon. I have read that there is a previous movie that has Art in it and I will be checking that out as soon as possible. The movie was delightfully over the top in all of the best ways. It definitely reinvigorated me to finish this challenge I have set before myself once again. I recommend this but it is definitely not for those with weak stomachs.


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