REVIEW: ‘IT Chapter Two’ is More Humorous than Horrific

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It Chapter Two, directed by Andy Muschietti and produced by New Line Cinema, picks up twenty-seven years after The Losers Club’s first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård). Most of the members of the Losers Club have grown up and moved away from Derry. Bill (James McAvoy) is now an author working on the set of a film along with his wife. Richie (Bill Hader) is a stand-up comedian but often gets nervous before his shows. Beverly (Jessica Chastain) has her own business but finds herself in an abusive marriage. Ben (Jay Ryan) has become a successful architect. Eddie (James Ransone) works for an insurance company as a risk analyst. Stanley (Andy Bean) is happily married and is planning a trip with his wife until a devastating phone call brings them back.

Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), who stayed in Derry since the events of the first film, overhears about a brutal attack that happened during the town’s festival. He fears that Pennywise has returned and calls the other members of the Losers Club in hopes that they will come back to defeat the evil entity once and for all. There are also several flashbacks that fill in the gaps for what happened during and after the events of the previous film.

Before even jumping into the main elements of the film, it’s important to talk about both the opening and domestic violence scenes. Given that it’s a prominent part of King’s original book, I knew that the scenes were coming. However, I wasn’t prepared for just how graphic those two scenes would actually be. It was extremely uncomfortable to see a hate crime being played out in the beginning of the film. If the purpose of including that scene was to set up the fact that this would be a much darker film, it did not work. Similarly, the domestic abuse scene between Beverly and her husband plays no real integral part within the plot. They’re completely unnecessary since they only seem to attempt to create a shock factor. The plot could have easily progressed the way it does without them being included.

Even if you haven’t seen IT Chapter Two, it’s hard to avoid the immense praise that Bill Hader is receiving for his portrayal of Richie. I confess that I show a bit more bias towards Hader since I’ve enjoyed his acting since he was on Saturday Night Live, but I was completely blown away with his character. He not only brings his comedic style to the film but his character seems to be the one with the most progression. Hader brings out most of the emotional elements within the film and his delivery of these emotional scenes is one I could relate to on a personal level. His character is the heart and soul of the movie and it would be hard to picture anyone else playing that role in this adaptation.

It’s unfortunate that the film implements comedic moments that take away from any moments where the audience is meant to be scared. Part of this comes from Skarsgård’s portrayal of Pennywise. The scene from the trailer where Beverly visits her old home shows comedic elements that take away from any of the actual scares. If you look closely, there is a shot of Pennywise as the old woman creeping around in a very cartoonish manner. I knew to expect this scene, but it still took me away from any real fear that I was supposed to feel from this scene.

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t any scenes that convey true horror. Once again, shown in the trailers, the scene where Bill tries to save someone from Pennywise inside the house of mirrors was truly scary. Bill’s desperation to save the kid as Pennywise bangs his head on the mirror put me on the edge of my seat. It calls upon the fears of not being able to save people you care for when they’re in grave danger. It would have added an extra level of horror had it not been included in the trailers, it still made me feel scared.

The official running time of the film is 2 hours and 50 minutes, which ultimately ends up hurting the movie rather than supporting it. A good amount of the run time is due to the constant flashbacks that are shown. While they do play an important role within the plot, they pull away from the central story. It makes it seem as if there was so much more that needed to be told during the first movie, but it was placed in IT Chapter Two instead. Those flashback scenes could have been released on a special edition of IT rather than piling them on an already heavy film.

Because of these additional scenes, the pacing of the film also suffers. The first act of the film completely falls apart since it feels the need to explain where the members of The Loser’s Club have been since the events of the first film. Had the flashback scenes been reduced, there would be a bigger explanation as to why the kids turn out to be successful adults. IT Chapter 2 also takes the approach of including Native American folklore to explain the mythology behind Pennywise. Not only does the film not take enough time to fully explore this, but it’s questionable as to whether the folklore even fits within the narrative. I’m not in a position to make a claim on whether it is or isn’t, but this will surely spark up insightful conversations.

The manner in which this ritual is handled is not culturally appropriate. Had the significance been explored further, it wouldn’t have played out as if this ritual was merely included to add this level of mysticism. Fans of the original source material know the significance of the ritual, but it doesn’t make sense that this background knowledge is needed. It’s automatically excluding a big portion of its audience that hadn’t read King’s book or seen the mini-series. The film includes a native culture without investing in it at all.

The overall story in IT Chapter 2 was enjoyable, but it could have been so much more had the humor not overshadow the horror elements and if certain scenes of the film were taken away. There was a lot of excitement behind this film, especially with the incredible cast and the amount of success that the first film garnered. However, I walked out of my viewing really underwhelmed and disappointed.

IT Chapter Two is now playing in cinemas.

IT Chapter Two
  • 6/10
    Rating - 6/10
6/10

TL;DR

The overall story in IT Chapter 2 was enjoyable, but it could have been so much more had the humor not overshadow the horror elements and if certain scenes of the film were taken away.