A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Terrifier is a slasher movie about an evil killer clown. Blood and gore are extremely strong, and the violence against women is disturbing. One woman is hung naked upside down (her breasts are visible) and sawed in half from her crotch to her head. Another woman's skin is sliced off of her chest, and the killer wears it on his own chest so that he can have breasts. There are many deaths, and tons of blood sprays/spurts, plus beating with blunt objects, guns and shooting, stabbing, slicing, severed heads, eye-gouging, and much more. Language is also very strong, with multiple uses of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and more. There's some sexual innuendo, and a couple falls into bed, kissing. Characters are drunk after a night of partying, cigarette smoking is shown, and a woman is injected with a knockout drug.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In TERRIFIER, Dawn (Catherine Corcoran) and Tara (Jenna Kanell) are finishing up a night on the town when they realize that they're both too tipsy to drive. Tara suggests getting a slice of pizza while they sober up. A scary, unspeaking clown (David Howard Thornton) in a black-and-white outfit wanders into the pizza parlor and starts staring at Tara. After the friends leave, the clown brutally murders all of the employees in the restaurant. When Dawn and Tara get back to their car, they find the tires slashed. Tara phones her sister, Victoria (Samantha Scaffidi), for a pick-up, and then goes into a creepy nearby building to use the restroom. Unfortunately, the clown isn't through with them yet, and it's going to be a long night.
Is it any good?
An attempt to pay homage to slasher movies of the 1980s, this horror pic has a truly unsettling killer and some entertaining elements, but it ultimately goes too far with its cruelty toward women. Written and directed by Damien Leone, Terrifier is well cast, from the freaky-looking Art the Clown -- with his strange, sneering smile -- to the exterminator who initially looks creepy but turns out to be good. Tara is especially likable: She's a traditional horror heroine who seems to have been made up to resemble Neve Campbell's Sidney Prescott in Scream. (We also hear a radio ad for "Craven's Halloween Store.")
But, perhaps in an effort to avoid the traditional formulas of all those 1980s movies, Leone sends his storyline flying all over the place. There's no real hero (or "final girl") to root for. The viciousness of the attacks and torture of the female characters seems a little outsized and excessive for what seems intended as an homage. Perhaps worse, a cruel prologue sequence offers heavy-handed foreshadowing to the movie's rather hopeless ending. If only Terrifier had found a better balance of characters -- and perhaps a measure of hope, which would have added more suspense -- it might have stood near the movies that inspired it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Terrifier. What message does it send that so much of it is directed at women? Does the movie go too far? Who decides what "too far" means?
Is the movie scary? What's the appeal of horror movies?
How is drinking portrayed? Is it glamorized? Are the drinkers responsible?
Why do you think so many people find clowns scary?
What's the "slasher" subgenre of horror, and why was/is it so popular?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love scares
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch