Movie Review: IT CHAPTER 2 Starring Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader
The highly anticipated follow-up to Andy Muschietti’s remake of Stephen King’s haunting tale of a clown that feasts on children (both literally and figuratively,) It: Chapter 2 hits theatres today. While the original 90’s miniseries terrified a generation and amplified coulrophobia (the irrational fear of clowns,) still to this day, as well as a providing a fantastic performance by Tim Curry, many were intrigued by the idea of a reboot. Part 1, released in 2017 was an absolute success. From the on-screen relationship between the younger versions of the main cast to Bill Skarsgård recreating the iconic character of ‘Pennywise’ for an entirely new generation, all the ducks were in a row to formulate a remake people actually wanted.
So, when it was announced that the film would be split into two separate entries, the anticipation for part 2 was intense, especially following the first film. Questions surrounding casting, tie-ins to the book, how the first film would be incorporated immediately started circulating among moviegoers and fans of horror cinema. Those questions, two years later, are finally answered. However, it seems that the results don’t seem to be as balanced as we were anticipating.
The film picks up where the beloved characters from the first film are grown adults, as we see where life planted Eddie, Bill, Richie, Beverly, Mike, Ben, and Stanley – the infamous ‘Losers Club.’ Mike, having been the only individual to remain in their hometown, notices a string of occurrences similar to those that littered the town 27 years prior, prompting him to call the Losers Club back to Derry, Maine to confront the monster that terrorized them in their youth. With little to no memory of what happened to them, Mike is tasked with piecing together the summer the group of adolescents went head-to-head versus one of the most sinister evils known to man, referring to the entity as ‘It,’ or the character’s demonic ego ‘Pennywise the Clown.’ When home, each character is confronted with a flood of memories of the truly haunting and traumatic childhood that they each suffered, as well as the oath each child made that if “It” were to ever return, then so would they.
With the focus of the film being on the adult versions of the characters, interweaving flashbacks and memories, it’s safe to say that the casting was absolutely fantastic. Adult versions of our beloved losers include Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Andy Bean and bringing back Skarsgård as the menacing Pennywise. Bill Hader’s performance stood out as it seemed to be something out of the actor’s typical wheelhouse, but also brought the comedic relief provided by the ever-joking character of Richie. Being a horror film, it seemed that Hader might have been an odd choice of casting, but I’m pleasantly surprised to say his performance was my personal favorite.
As for the relationship between the adult losers, it seemed something was disconnected. Yes, the casting was great, as well as the writing. Gary Dauberman knows how to pen a great script, as proven with his impeccable dialogue in the first film. My issue is with the disconnect between the two features. If that plan all along was to create this massive story arc over the course of two films, the second film should have been more structured during the production of its counterpart (i.e. having a cast, consistency of storylines that are easily followed between both entries, etc.) It seemed that the organic bond among the children was missing in their reunion as adults. This may just be speculation, but the strength of the first film was heavily focused on the closeness of the children, facing off against ‘It’ together. However, in the second installment, the adults are separated, which seemed like a forced part of the storyline. While I understand the underlying bones of this story are preexisting within the text by King, there is definitely room for adaption, which I don’t think was utilized to its fullest potential.
As for the horror element, it’s safe to say that this film is without a doubt classified as a ‘horror feature.’ However, it seemed Muschietti relied on generic CGI monsters and jump scares to fulfill the horror elements of the film. During part 1, this was acceptable. The main characters were children, and Pennywise took on the form of their fears, whatever that form may be. But, it seemed this tool was overused quite a bit in part 2. To put it simply, this film didn’t scare me. If the route of isolating the characters was the choice of action the director chose to take, then I felt he should have committed to this idea. Take the solo journeys of the characters and create terrifying circumstances, preying on their fears as they have adapted into adulthood. Yes, jump scares and monsters will do the trick for most audience members. But, a truly horrifying film is one that doesn’t necessarily scare you while watching, but more so later during the afterthought of the film, when the individual is alone, vulnerable, and most relatable to the character of the film.
Overall, I wouldn’t say that It Chapter 2 wasn’t enjoyable, because it most certainly was. However, the sticky situation with this movie is that it is automatically put into comparison with part 1, and for me, I had the predisposition of high expectations walking into the theatre. The anticipatory element of this being a continuation also puts expectations into the movie-goers experience. It was a great story, extremely well-written, the acting was fantastic (again, Hader was brilliant,) and successfully created a duality between horror and science fiction that is no easy feat, I just felt the shortcomings of the film could have been avoided. However, I do recommend seeing the movie, especially if you saw the first part (you can’t just not finish the story, what kind of monster are you?) But, maybe lower the bar of expectation, because I personally felt Part 1 was far superior. When seeing this film, try and separate it from its counterpart and maybe you won’t find yourself making the comparison between the two films. In a rounded perspective though, part 2 wraps up the storyline and leaves the audience with the feeling of being content and finalizing the storylines in a solid manner.
I would give the film a B-.
It: Chapter 2 is out everywhere in theatres today, so check your local theatre for showtimes, grab some friends and get your float on! Enjoy, and BEEP BEEP RICHIE!