And so comes the end of my third annual October horror-a-thon. I still hate this name, but it’s stuck. I’ve skirted the rules somewhat this year – in 2013, I watched a movie every night and wrote it up right afterwards; I’d also write something on my tumblr every day. In 2014, I wasn’t working so I had all the free time in the world. This time, I’ve been living in London these past 7 or so months and I forget that those people really like to drink.
And yesterday, I was back in my other home of Salem (fuck yeah Haunted Happenings! – photos to come later), so I cheated by watching a horror short – the aptly-named Terrifier.
But it’s by no means a less effective watch. A lot’s packed into these tense 19 or so minutes, and its simplicity is its strength: Clowns and and inexplicable, logic-defying chasing – specifically the classic horror trope in which, no matter how fast you run, the slower-moving killer is always somehow one step ahead of you (It Follows used this as its principal scare).
It’s by turns gory, shocking, and fucking bizarre. And scary. The beauty of short films like this is that, much like non-US horror, there’s the potential to not just push the envelope, but tear it a new one; there are almost no rules about what can and can’t be shown on screen, and the limited running time means that the plot could go anywhere. There’s no time to actually develop characters so that we can have it telegraphed to us which ones will live based on actor name recognition and final girl/victim tropes.
Director Damien Leone is a quite the one-man show, crafting the special effects as well as doing the editing and sound. You can tell he’s got a lifelong love of horror; with its off-kilter, sparse score and burnt-film overlay, Terrifier ends up looking much like a lost snuff film of the ’80s. It’s seeing new life as a feature-length piece, currently filming but slated for release this year, but its clown killer Art (Mike Gianelli in this; David Howard Thornton in the remake) was also the featured psycho in Leone’s 2013 anthology All Hallow’s Eve.
I ended up choosing this as it was a horror short set on Hallowe’en night (thanks, Google!). Thankfully my October 31st wasn’t as eventful as this. Equally thankfully, I’m not a coulrophobic.