Horror 2 remains one of the most surprising films of last year, and not just because of its shocking brutality and nasty gore. The explanation lies between blood and screams, in the artistry of the filmmaker Damien Leone and its amazing cast and crew (including the magnetic, powerful Lauren LaVera in a star-studded performance) manifest their collective vision – or nightmare. They managed to literally transmog every dollar of a relatively low budget film so that it seemed like it cost 40 times what it actually did. Beyond the aesthetic and technical mastery, the film is simply bolder than almost any recent horror film, confident enough to embrace surreal fantasy elements and leverage its 138-minute running time; Most horror films shy away from 90, ironically for fear that their own horrors will wear off. Leone wasn’t bluffing.
The truly unique Horror 2 The company not only raised five times its original budget from an Indiegogo campaign, but also subsequently raised more than 60 times its budget. A current 4K box set with Terrifier, Terrifier 2, And All Hallow’s Eve (every film Leone has directed to date that features the horrific murderer Art the Clown) quickly sold out, although the films are of course available individually on home media and streaming (see below). But all of this shows the immense popularity of the character and the director. These films touched a nerve, and the sound that resonated haunted and thrilled millions of us. The response continued with a successful re-release of in cinemas on November 1st Horror 2.
As news and rumors of next year’s sequel make the rounds on the digital airwaves, horror 3and the possible plot of a fourth film, we spoke to Leone via email about his films, their reception (both positive and negative), and the future of horror – his and ours.
Art, the clown won’t die
- Damien Leone
- Felissa Rose, David Howard Thornton, Samantha Scaffidi, Griffin Santopietro, Tamara Glynn, Lauren LaVera
- Release date
- October 6, 2022
- 138 mins
MovieWeb: The theater performance on November 1st seemed to be a real gift for the fans, what is your reception for their reception of Art the Clown and Horror 2?
Damien Leone: The fan response to the re-release has been nothing short of amazing and it feels like it’s the original release all over again. This is a testament to how supportive they are More terrible Fans are, and that’s why we try so hard to deliver the goods.
MW: You invented the character and made spectacular films with him, but when and why did you first imagine a larger horror universe surrounding Art the Clown?
Damien Leone: Once I decided to bring art back from the dead and devote myself to the supernatural Horror 2, it just opened up a whole world of possibilities. It essentially opens a gate to the afterlife, or a dark dimension that can harbor all sorts of fantastical evils.
It was also essential that we present Sienna as a worthy opponent or end player who can really stand up to Art. Once you’ve established a seemingly immortal and unstoppable villain, it’s only fitting that you introduce a hero who serves as a foil and shares some of the same supernatural traits.
The lovers and critics of Terrifier’s extreme violence
MW: There is a certain level of surrealism or absurdity in your films, however slight it may sometimes be, that almost protects the viewer (well, most viewers) from being traumatized by the images. But you capture the suffering in a haunting way. This is a bit abstract, but which do you think affects people more (either in a titillating or shocking way) – the blood and violence of your films or the human suffering?
Damien Leone: One of the main reasons why I brought more lightness to the topic More terrible Films and a heightened sense of the surreal are what allow me to approach the violence as realistically as possible. There has to be a balance. If the gore is too extreme and the film takes itself way too seriously, it’s almost certain that the audience will leave the theater very depressed. That’s not the overall quality I want More terrible but there is a skill to capturing realistic images that I admire. Unless you’re specifically aiming for laughs with your killing scene, the more realistic and disturbing the execution, the more emotional the reaction.
MW: Although art is an equal opportunity killer, some people see violence against women as a prevalent issue. Do you ignore such reactions or do the gender-based killings have a thematic or meaningful function?
Damien Leone: Personally, I completely ignore it because I’m the furthest thing from a misogynist, but violence against women is a strong part of the slasher genre, as is The Final Girl. That’s the classic saying and it’s more profound than people give it credit for. Historically, men are wilder and more brutal than women. It’s human nature to fight each other, conquer lands, hunt, etc. A male psychopath attacking a vulnerable woman is more effective and disturbing on many levels, which in turn makes the villain much more reprehensible. This increases the audience’s sympathy for your final girl tenfold and it’s exhilarating to root for. Now, I would understand the argument a little better if your male villain slaughtered women throughout the entire film, only to see a man save the day at the end.
My goal with Horror 2In particular, it was about creating a very impressive final girl who was very relatable and a clear underdog against this seemingly immortal madman. Audiences love an underdog, especially when they use their wits and courage to overcome extreme obstacles.
Damien Leone on Terrifier 3 and the future of horror
MW: Has the reception of Horror 2 changed your original vision for Art the Clown and horror 3and in what way, if so?
Damien Leone: Not too much. The one thing I’m very conscious of when I go in horror 3 tries to make a film under two hours and falls back somewhat on the mystical/fantastical element that was so prevalent in the second part. A fair number of fans objected to both of these components, but I personally love the fantasy element surrounding Sienna, and it’s crucial to her character and her metamorphosis as Art’s nemesis. However, there is a way to keep this element thematic without putting the focus on it visually.
MW: When producing Terrifier 2, and now in development horror 3Did you feel the pressure to become even worse, more horrific, and overall more disturbing? If so, do you value this pressure and where does it end?
Damien Leone: I do! The blood or the special make-up effects have become an integral part of this franchise and it has become an integral part of surpassing the huge success of the previous film. I want the third installment to be the most bloodthirsty and depraved installment in the series yet, but I also want it to be the scariest.
Gore will only take you so far, and I’m just as interested in making a scary movie that really drives you crazy. I want to approach the film as if no one has ever been introduced to Art the Clown before, to make it truly terrifying.
MW: Many people believe that you are at the forefront of the entire horror genre today. Which creators (or projects) do you think are at the forefront?
Damien Leone: Oh wow! No pressure! It’s an honor and a privilege to hear this, but I’m always trying to prove myself and evolve as a filmmaker. I feel like I still have a long way to go and a lot to learn, but I will always do my best! I think the horror genre is going through something of a renaissance and there are so many people making extraordinary films! As for newbies, I admire the work of Robert Eggers, Ari Aster, and Panos Cosmatos, to name a few. They make very unique and exciting films that push the genre into bolder territory. Nothing annoys me more than generic horror films that feel like they come off an assembly line.
Well, the very last thing that can be said about Leone’s films is that they are made on a studio assembly line. In fact, Leone is one of the most innovative, artistic and thoughtful horror directors working today. You can watch All Hallow’s Eve on AMC+ and Tubi, or rent it on digital platforms; You can watch More terrible on Tubi, Plex, Peacock, Vudu and Prime Video; You can watch Horror 2 on Prime Video or rent it on a digital platform like Google Play or Apple TV.