Terrifier (2017) [Philadelphia Unnamed Film Festival 2017]

A crazed clown terrorizes a group of young women and the people trying to help them on Halloween night.

Written and directed by Damien Leone, Terrifier takes the scary clown idea and ups the violence from recent films such as IT and makes the kills bloodier and more brutal.  The film has some definitely good ideas and the clown’s design is interesting and creepy for sure, but for those without coulrophobia, the clown is only as scary as the performance for him.  This is something that will be touched on in a little bit.  The story here is the classic slasher on Halloween night story; a killer maims and hurts a group of people on Halloween night.  The difference is in the execution which is well done here but still feels a bit like more of the same at times.  The title, Terrifier, gives an expectation for the viewer that this will be terrifying and unless you are really scared of clowns, the film is only a little scary and not quite terrifying.

The clown that is central to the story called Art the Clown is played by David Howard Thornton who gives him good screen presence and ménage.  His way of playing him as an almost mime gives the character an interesting look and demeanor which does, at times, bring the fear and dread and at others, not so much unfortunately.  He does play a scary killer for the most part though.  Playing his victims is a slew of people who all do decent work here but not really anything particularly memorable.  They are good victims, but a bit generic.  The opening of the film does give one of the victims a bit more to chew on but as her face is covered with prosthetics, it’s hard to see how her acting comes off.  The cast here is decent, but not all that memorable.  David Howard Thornton does give a good performance that does bring some chills and his commitment is commendable.

What makes Terrifier stand out is its look.  The film is in color but the color pattern is very much black and white with shades of grey, but not actually in black and white.  This makes the blood and gore stand out quite starkly.  The cinematography by George Steuber makes good use of this and the dark settings.  It works with the light and dark to create creepy scenes and make them look both filled with dread and like dark art photographs.  The effects shown in these scary scenes are well done for the most part.  The opening prosthetics are a bit rough looking but the rest of the film including a kill somewhat reminiscent of Wrong Turn 2 are nicely gooey and gory.  The blood flows freely more than once and the gore it done with know-how and talent.

Terrifier is not exactly terrifying unless the viewer has a very real fear of clowns, but it does have some rather effective scenes.  The effects, except for one piece of practical effects, are nicely bloody, gooey, and gory.  The killer is played with aplomb and does bring some chills throughout the film.  It’s a decent Halloween offering that has some good kills, some decently dreadful ambiance, and some twisted fun.

Terrifier is playing at the Philadelphia Unnamed Film Festival on Thursday, September 28th. Tickets can be purchased at https://filmfreeway.com/festival/PhiladelphiaUnnamedFilmFestival/tickets