‘Terrifier 2’: Meet Art the Clown’s New Adversary, Actor Lauren LaVera [Interview]

Horror

Art the Clown is back for Halloween!

Writer/Director Damien Leone’s super-sized Terrifier 2 opens in theaters nationwide on October 6, 2022 from Bloody Disgusting, Cinedigm, and Iconic Events.

The highly anticipated sequel to the cult-favorite slasher film welcomes back David Howard Thornton as the demonic killer, Art the Clown. Following his gruesome demise in the first film, a sinister presence has brought Art back to life to rein terror on the residents of Miles County. On Halloween night, he returns to the unassuming town. He sets his sights on fresh prey: a teenage girl, Sienna, and her little brother, Jonathan, played by Lauren LaVera and Elliott Fullam.

Ahead of Terrifier 2‘s release, Leone shared with Bloody Disgusting what fans can expect from the sequel, promising an unprecedented theatrical experience this weekend.

One of the most noticeable facets of this sequel is its robust, almost 2.5-hour runtime. Leone explains how the sequel story’s magnitude matches its length, beginning with its lead characters.

Damien Leone explains to BD, “It’s a much bigger movie, bigger scope. The Sienna character is my favorite part of Terrifier 2 and one of the main reasons I wanted to make this film. Because I’ve had that character in my mind for maybe 15 years; though not specifically Sienna, what she became has evolved. I had that image of this final girl dressed as a Valkyrie, an angel warrior, but very grounded in reality. I wanted to put her into a slasher film as a final girl. That was exciting because Terrifier 1 was just the showcase for Art the Clown as a villain. It was such a low-budget movie, and how are we going to stand out amongst Hollywood horror movies? What could we do that would grab people’s attention?”

Leone continues, “It was really about shoving Art the Clown in people’s faces and having these insanely graphic slasher set pieces and things that would make people leave the theater talking about, ‘Oh my God, you wouldn’t believe what I just saw.’ But now it’s time for me to grow as a writer and see how much I could bring to the table; better, more dynamic characters and a greater story with a more intricate plot. Things that people were missing from the first Terrifier. That was my goal in making this, especially with the Sienna and the Jonathan character. They’re the heartbeat through this whole film.

When I wrote the script, I never thought about the length or running time. It was just organic. This was the story that came out of me and the story that I wanted to tell. It wasn’t until I got into the editing room that I realized how long this was. I was conscious of that and knew it might throw some people off. There were even scenes that I shot where I didn’t even bother editing them. I knew that this scene wasn’t going to move the narrative forward in any way. So, I was trying to cut it down, but this was the story I wanted to tell at the end of the day. There’s a difference between a long movie that’s just filler or a movie where I felt like all these scenes push the story forward. And every scene, you’re learning something new, or you’re learning something more interesting about the character and just building everything and building and building. When you spend a little more time with these characters, it is more effective when you throw them into crisis. Luckily for people who’ve seen it at Fright Fest, pretty much everybody feels like the runtime is not an issue whatsoever, and it flies.

“Some people even say it could have been longer.”

Art the Clown has been with Leone for a long time, evolving from short films, anthology appearances, and now two feature films. When asked about Art’s future, Leone reveals that it’s something he thinks about often.

Leone tells us. “I’m worried about him growing stale or, as I always say, ‘The well running dry.’ Many fans say, ‘I want this to be like Jason. I want to see 10 of these. Keep going, keep going.’ That’s amazing and flattering, and who knows, maybe I will. But I worry that it’s just going to fall flat eventually, and the jokes are going to get stale. How many different ways can you possibly kill somebody, interestingly? Even though we’re making interesting kills, a lot of the time, there are kills you’ve already seen. But I’m trying to do them in new and more interesting ways if I can. So, it is tricky. But I think having dynamic characters in this one gives Art some room to breathe and takes some of the burden off his shoulders.

“It’s more interesting when he does come back in, and he’s not constantly in your face even though he is probably in Terrifier 2 more than he’s in Terrifier 1 because it’s such a big movie. I will say, though, I have plenty of ideas left with Art that are still very fresh and new situations to put him in and new settings, and just the fact that he could have a lot of fun. That’s the character. I think you could put him in almost any situation and have fun with him. I pay attention to the audience and the fans because I do listen to critiques and criticisms, and it does help me steer me in the right direction, hopefully. So, we’ll see.”

As for what fans can expect from the sequel in tone and kills, Leone cites retro horror as an inspiration for the atmosphere – but with a contemporary twist.

To me, this is sort of a throwback to slashers that we don’t get anymore. My goal was to have a bit of that atmosphere of a movie like A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3 mixed with something like Saw, something modern horror where it’s things you’re familiar with that you love and miss. But it’s not just a total replica or repeat. It’s still going to be a very fresh experience. And even before dealing with this new run time, we’re breaking many rules and creating something original. I’m just going in to see something I could pretty much assure you is unlike anything you’ve seen yet in a horror film. That’s a tone and an atmosphere that I miss that I’m always trying to grab and recreate somehow. Not saying that I pull it off, but that’s what I try to do. Hopefully, we bring that to it, but we’re certainly upping the ante with the graphic violence.”

Terrifier 2 certainly delivers on that graphic violence. If you’re worried that the theatrical release will trim out some of that excess gore, Leone debunks those fears entirely.

He explains, “The fact that this is getting a pretty good theatrical release and it’s being released, not rated, is unprecedented. They keep saying, ‘Oh, since you’re putting this in the movie theaters, it has to be watered down. It can’t be like the first one.’ No, I assure you, it might be worse. It’s certainly on the same level; it might be worse. And you could see this in theaters, so that’s going to be wild. That’s exciting.”

Don’t miss the uncut slasher when it arrives in theaters on October 6. You can find a complete listing of locations over on the official website, where you can also grab your tickets now!

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