Thursday, 31 October 2019

IT: Chapter Two ★★★☆☆

In 2017, everyone’s favourite murderous clown returned to the screen in what turned out to be one of the biggest surprises of modern horror. Despite early character reveals and trailers leading the masses to complain in unison that “he’s no Tim Curry”, actor Bill Skarsgård made sure our dormant coulrophobia was revived with a stunning performance as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. The film succeeded from the nostalgic 80s setting, a stellar child cast with amazing chemistry and some really innovative and harrowing scares. But one of the film’s biggest shocks was the closing title – although coming as no surprise for anyone familiar with the novel or 1990 miniseries, the first film ended with “Chapter One”.

Yes, the first film’s plot covered only the young ‘Losers Club’ as they battled with the murderous titular entity, while the book also focused on the club 27 years later as they reunited as adults to finish off that clown bastard once and for all. Despite the heavy use of flashbacks, this long-awaited sequel almost entirely focuses on the adult Losers – and while there are some highlights, it is something of a disappointment when compared to the incredible first film.

Now adults, childhood friends have long since gone their separate ways. But when people start disappearing, an adult Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) calls the others home for one final stand. Damaged by scars from the past, the united Losers must conquer their deepest fears to destroy the shape-shifting Pennywise - now more powerful than ever.

Firstly, give the film’s casting director a medal right now. The adult Losers are so uncannily cast that you truly feel like this is the kids from part one grown-up. While traditional star power comes from James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain as Bill and Beverly respectively, the real stars are Bill Hader (HBO’s Barry) and James Ransone who are totally unforgettable as Richie and Eddie – a pairing that will certainly become iconic in horror movie lore for reasons that I shall not spoil. Their chemistry together and their command of the audience in scenes they are alone is certainly unparalleled by the other cast members. McAvoy especially seems to be on autopilot here.

But despite the efforts of some of the cast, the film itself is deeply flawed. For starters, a runtime nearing 3 hours (the longest horror movie ever released) means there is a lot of padding here. Whilst the original book exceeded 1,000 pages, it still feels like a lot of time here is wasted on tedious scenes that could easily have been shortened or chopped out altogether. The middle chunk of the film covers the Losers Club as they prepare for a ritual that they believe will destroy the evil entity, which requires them each to sacrifice a ‘token’ that is meaningful to them. Almost an hour of the film covers the group as they split up to find their tokens and the structure is so painfully episodic – we watch as each Loser finds their token, has an encounter with Pennywise, escapes. Rinse, lather, repeat. 

And with each Pennywise encounter comes this film’s biggest problem – the bloody CGI. IT Chapter Two is absolutely drowning in overly CGI’d monsters and ghouls that are just not scary. A scene in which a young Richie is chased by a possessed statue is so cartoonish in its delivery that it is just laughable and not frightening. And when the scares aren’t unintentionally amusing, the film goes for laughs on purpose and totally undercuts any tension or horror. One bizarre music cue of Angel of the Morning feels like a meme that was left in the film by accident!

But it’s not all bad. The characters are still interesting and the flashbacks (newly shot scenes of the child characters) recapture some of the first film’s glory, despite noticeable digital de-ageing on the young actors. And, of course, Bill Skarsgård is still a marvel as Pennywise. But the film does suffer in a lot of areas that the first film didn’t, which is very disappointing. Despite opening with an incredibly harrowing sequence that puts Georgie’s death from Chapter One to shame, the film runs out of steam pretty fast and ultimately feels underwhelming – at least, when compared to the modern masterpiece first film. Worth a look, though? Definitely. Just adjust your expectations accordingly and don’t expect the quality of Chapter One. 

Sam Love

Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl