This article contains major spoilers for “Terrifier 2.”
Going into its fourth week in theaters, “Terrifier 2” continues to hold strong at the box office. The widespread reports of fainting and vomiting have only emboldened curious folks outside of the horror bubble to come and see what all of the fuss is about. Thankfully, the inadvertent William Castle-esque marketing draw is not a case of hyperbole. The gore effects of the slasher sequel are no joke, and folks are quickly finding out.
Where Art the Clown (David Howard Thornton) was at once familiar to just the horror crowd, the killer clown and his demented grimace have quickly landed a spot among the slasher greats. The staggeringly impressive makeup greatly contributes to Thornton’s committed performance. He sells every bit of the grindhouse era brutality through the art of pantomime, which makes every body mutilation caused by Art much more unsettling.
Both “Terrifier” films, along with the other Art-related projects from director Damien Leone, have introduced the idea that lead slasher is a supernatural beast. In “Terrifier 2,” Art mutilates a coroner after blowing his brains out in the last film, signaling that he’s no ordinary man in a clown costume. Not too long afterward, Art takes his costume to the cleaners where he comes face to face with a demonic little girl, who ultimately becomes the secret weapon of “Terrifier 2.”
Played by newcomer Amelie McLain, Art’s miniature side-kick goes by the title the Little Pale Girl. We know we’re there to see the killer clown do his thing, but she appears from out of thin air. Her screen debut is a startling image because the makeup is somehow even grimier than Art’s. With the abundant amount of rumors and spoiler-filled television spots we get on a regular basis, it was really smart of Leone to save McLain’s debut creeper for the film itself.
While talking with Bloody Disgusting, Leone talks about how the Little Pale Girl serves the purpose of someone for Art to interact with:
“It wasn’t just going to be this evil force, or whatever brought him back. I wanted it to be a character. So initially, this character was always going to be a creepy little girl to represent this demon, perhaps even Satan itself. We’ll explore that later.”
In the film, she resembles Art the Clown right down to the pasty makeup and the killer’s signature black and white clown costume. Her one discernable difference is a large ponytail, whereas Art’s entire head is covered.
Art the Clown is the last person (or, uh, clown) you would expect to have loved ones, but the inclusion of McLain gives the impression that he’s in some way a family man. No one else can see the Little Pale Girl except for Laura LaVera’s Sienna and Elliott Fullam’s Jonathan, who both share a mysterious link to Art.
The Little Pale Girl shows up intermittently throughout, whether she’s playing pattycake with Art at the laundromat, or taunting Jonathan at school with a disemboweled opossum. She appears to want to cause the same kind of mischievous mayhem that Art is doling out — but from the sidelines.
The only clue as to her origins is a blink-and-you-miss-it newspaper clipping about the death of a young girl named Emily, who supposedly went missing in Art’s funhouse lair some time ago. It isn’t specified here, so much as teased, with the idea that it would be expanded upon further in the very likely “Terrifier 3.” Until then, she’s a frightening addition to the “Terrifier” mythology who adds an even greater intrigue as to what these gruesome pantomimes are all about.
According to Leone, the Little Pale Girl was “supposed to be in a sundress with flowers,” but once he saw cosplayers of all genders dressing up as Art, he wanted to get ahead of the cosplay curve by making her look like an extension of the pantomime slasher.
Leone wanted McLain to make a bunch of creepy faces during her audition, and she more than delivered (via Bloody Disgusting):
“I gave her very little direction when I was auditioning, and I just said, ‘Can you make creepy faces in the mirror and smile and big white eyes to all these weird things.’ She sent me the video back, and she was having so much fun and just looked great doing this. I said, ‘She’s going to be so much fun.”
It takes a special kind of talent to creep everyone out, let alone a theater full of people, so it really speaks to how suited McLain was for this role. Most of her scenes take place alongside Art during his downtime. When you hear Thornton talk about how well their onscreen chemistry was, it becomes increasingly clear that the two were a natural fit born in the bowels of hell.
While Thornton was gearing up to once again don the clown costume that made him famous among genre folk, McLain was trying to get a feel for the mannerisms that would come naturally to her. “You could see how she was discovering who the character was for herself and what she could bring to it from what Dave was doing. So, watching that from the sidelines was very fun,” says Leone.
But for as much as Leone saw McLain building her character up, it was Thornton who was really impressed by her commitment to the bit (via Bloody Disgusting):
“She is so observant, so observant. I just, I was blown away by her performance in this. She’s so good—the things she had to go through for this. I know I go through a lot with my makeup alone, but she had to wear those scleral lenses. Oh. I can’t stand stuff being in my eyes. In the first one, I had contacts for most of it until they ripped one night, and oh. I don’t know how she dealt with that.”
You can sometimes forget that the new batch of young actors are still children. Here, McLain plays what is essentially a demon with a lot of dark and sinister idiosyncrasies. She’s caked in the same type of makeup layering as Thornton, and yet is still so gung ho about the filmmaking process. She may not be as immediately familiar as Art, but it’s only a matter of time until we start talking about McLain’s performance as one of the best creepy movie clowns.
“Terrifier 2” is now playing in select theaters nationwide, before making its streaming debut on Screambox on October 31, 2022.