it: chapter two
DIRECTOR: Andy Muschietti (it, mama)
starring: jessica chastain, james mcavoy, jay ryan, and bill skarsgard
REVIEWER: purdie picot
Twenty-seven years later, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back.
Following on from the highly successful 2017 film It: Chapter 2 continues the story of the Loser’s Club and brings their tale into the present day. The first film ended with the children of the Loser’s Club swearing an oath, to return to Derry if It ever returned, knowing that It seemed to occur on a 27 year cycle. Jumping forward, we now meet each of the Loser’s Club in their adult lives, all but Mike, have moved on from Derry and seemed to have forgotten the horrors of their childhood. Mike, living in town starts to see the signs pointing to It’s return. Calling the Loser’s Club back to Derry, they have to work together to kill It once and for all. Similar to the first film, it’s a story about friendship, trust and cooperation, and how clowns are truly terrifying.
The continuing from past to present, Chapter 1 to Chapter 2, a leap 27 years from the past, seems like quite an endeavor for a film to make, how do you catch up an audience on decades of development? Muschietti pulls this transition off with ease, brief insights into each of the character’s post-Derry adult lives and it’s easy to make that connection between past and present. And now I have to gush, for just a moment, about the casting of It: Chapter 2 - it is so so perfect. Each of the Loser’s Club has their adult counterpart who is a perfect match, from the simple physical appearance, but also the actors manage to pull off the small mannerisms which the kids had in the first film, little side glances or tone all come together to create these believable characters 27 years on. The film dances between the past and present, which creates an added pressure for these characters to align even more, as we aren’t remembering Will from a movie we watched 2 years ago, we just saw Will 2 minutes ago and now are seeing him all grown up.
So are adults still scared of a clown? Of course, Pennywise is just as terrifying, with his changing appearance and the ability to know each characters deepest insecurities and fears. Bill Skarsgård brings It to life in a way which will haunt people for years to come, and no doubt put a dent in the clowning business. I particularly like the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments of It hiding in the background, something which will reward any rewatch.
The scares are even bigger in Chapter 2, and what I loved about it was the scares are lasting, there are no cheap jump scares, you become frozen with fear as It creeps around the screen terrifying the Loser’s Club. There is a way that a Stephen King horror gets under your skin, and into your mind, and while the terrors you imagine are bad, what appears on the screen are even worse. Horrors that aren’t spoiled in the trailer, there are plenty of surprises still in the film.
It: Chapter 2 might be the longest horror film I’ve seen, pushing close to three hours - that’s more of your big Hollywood blockbuster territory - which this film is. The effects are epic, the characters are intriguing, It is terrifying yet you crave to see more. This film really ramps it up, and proves that you can throw money at a horror film and it be successful. For all the special effects and epic moments, nothing feels over inflated, the verisimilitude is very much maintained. And despite its length, it never feels drawn out. With other horror films (typically coming in at 90 minutes) you often sit through the dragging first two acts to build tension for that action-packed final act. Here we are treated to scares throughout the film and while the plot is moving forward and tension being developed, we already brought tension from the first film from that moment when Pennywise uttered ‘fear’ and returned to the sewer. This is the next level for horror films, big budget, well crafted scares - and I am here for this white-knuckled ride.
To get to the end of this epic tale, you first have to face your fear of It, but boy it’s a terrific ride.