Until recently, I’ve never been one for horror movies. 2017 changed that, in part because I really dug the first part of IT. The movie even made my 2017 Top Ten List. As such, I was really looking forward to the second part, even if it was going to be almost three hours long. It’s out now, so how did it turn out?
Hey, it can’t be any worse than the other movie I saw this year with James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain.
It’s been 27 years since the Losers Club vanquished Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgard). But that just means the cycle is ready to begin anew. The only Loser to stay in Derry was Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), and he’s still an outcast there as the town’s librarian. With Pennywise returning to kill more kids (and anyone else filled with fear), he’ll need to call the other Losers home. As it is, Bill, Eddie, Richie, Ben, Bev, and Stan don’t quite remember what happened in Derry.
All they really remember is the fear.
And therein lies Pennywise’s strength. He lives off the fear of others. If the Losers are going to prevail, they’ll need to not only remember the traumas of the past, but also to overcome the terror they felt both then and now. Otherwise, things will not end well for the Losers or Derry.
So, there’s a lot to like about this movie. The adult cast has good chemistry, and the script manages to work the kid cast into the proceedings as well. Director Andy Muschietti does make an effort to keep the movie if not literally than at least thematically accurate to Stephen King’s novel. This is a story about growing up, how friends drift apart, and how we forget things that used to matter to us. And while there are no slouches in the cast, Bill Hader as adult Richie easily steels every scene he’s in. Heck, most of the adults do look a good deal like their kid counterparts. Well, maybe not the two Bens, but the two Henry Bowerses look like they could be related.
I’ll even give the movie some credit for trying to give something to the Stan character he might have lacked in the original story.
However, this second chapter doesn’t quite work as well as the first. The first went for moody atmosphere over jump scares. While the atmosphere does stick around, Chapter Two seems to go a bit more for the jump scares. And as much as I like the not-quite-human way Bill Skarsgard plays Pennywise, the clown doesn’t really have any new tricks. That may be intentional. Obviously, Pennywise perhaps should be less scary the more we see of him. Heck, that’s true of most movie monsters. But the effect is Chapter Two becomes more comical than frightening. The jokes seem to be intentional, and some of them are quite funny, but they don’t help the horror. Plus, whenever the characters discuss the more, shall we say, spiritual aspects of the novel, it makes the proceedings sound more silly.
So, yes, I liked this one. But it wasn’t what I was hoping for. That’s often to be expected in any sequel. Bottom line, as much as I liked Chapter Two, it didn’t hit me the way Chapter One did. 8 out of 10 author cameos.