Two years ago, I walked into an auditorium to sit down and watch It: Chapter 1 with some horror-loving friends, some of whom were devoted Stephen King fans eager to see what a modern adaptation would look like. I was admittedly a little apprehensive, as I had strong pangs of nostalgia from the 90s mini-series starring Tim Curry, which had its scares but was ultimately let down by its weak ending, which left room for improvement. Further reservations were also abound by my underwhelming reaction to Mama, Andy Muschietti’s directorial feature debut, but I was willing to forego any misgivings and not judge on a token outing from the director and I was also open to seeing Pennywise in the 21st Century and how he would relate to the current cinema-going audience.
It turns out that Warner Bros. marketing team tapped into the social platforms of the “connected” generation and elevated the dancing clown into the pop culture mainstream, thanks partly to the look that was generated by the production team and Bill Skarsgård respectively. Whilst the movie itself didn’t resonate with me the same way it appeared to with the younger demographic, as I found the film lacked in decent scares, resorting to jump scares and it didn’t shift into dark enough territory for me, and Pennywise never terrified or disturbed enough, so I was left wanting as a result. It did however tap into one of King’s strongest elements in his writing and that is in its young misfit characters that unite against a common enemy that was imperative for the movie to have any chance of impacting at all. Here, Bill, Beverly, Ben et al had such a strong connection, that we were willing to go along for the ride for good or ill.
Fast forward to today and the passing of time has seen some changes in the Surgeons team. Some have left for other ventures or simply shifted into a whole new reality, and on this occasion I found myself without my usual horror-loving fiends alongside me and would have to face Pennywise on my own, a juxtaposition to the comrade of adult characters in the film, who depend on one another to defeat Pennywise once and for all.
My expectations were considerably low this time around following the first movie, but I was pleasantly surprised by this second instalment. The scares were still absent, but the adventure packed scenario that The Losers were confronted with this time around were made for entertaining viewing, mainly thanks to Bill Hader (Richie) and James Ransome (Eddie) who churn out strong performances and in many ways overshadowed the more A-list actors, James McAvoy (Bill) and Jessica Chastain (Beverly) who could have just phoned it in and weren’t really able to add much depth to their characters despite the near 3 hour running time.
So if character development isn’t packed into the time frame, then what exactly fills the narrative? It has a fairly weighty narrative, and to Muschietti’s credit, he manages to sandwich in a fair amount of the original story or concept into his version with a few notable exceptions, and in doing so, I was happy to one again be taken along the journey to its CGI-filled conclusion. One that was questionable but still managed to tug at the heart-strings in the quest for victory.
Pennywise still failed to scare despite Skarsgård’s unique portrayal and Chapter 2 feels content to rest on a more feel-good, fun ride to conclude the Loser’s Club’s adventures against the dancing clown. Horror fans will once again feel robbed of what could have been a dark and destroying creature that feeds on our greatest fears, but will be entertained nonetheless.
The ultimate test will be if it resonates with the audience for the production distributors to warrant another visit to Derry and spark an ongoing franchise into the mythology of Pennywise. Time will tell.
- Saul Muerte
Like comedic relief, Bill Hader has the best lines, but it felt like the director was playing for laughs rather than decent scares.Nick – Watch It Wombat
IT chapter two is a fun romp sadly ending in just one more film about the fear devouring Macroverse entity who appears to cheerfully as a psychotic clown.Dr. Richard Lovegrove
Bill Skarsgard reprises the role as the young’uns return to Derry, Maine 27 years after thinking they had defeated IT.
The adult cast all delivered stellar performances channeling their younger personas but Bill Hader’s Ritchie was a personal favourite.
As a fan of the 80’s miniseries I personally liked the updated take on this terrifying journey.
You gotta be fuckin’ kidding…Dr. Antony Yee