Dreary, slow-paced and really not all that scary, you know a horror film has failed to materialise as a good one when it ticks all the aforementioned adjectives. Unfortunately, Andrés Muschietti’s IT Chapter 2 does just this, which is a sore disappointment after the much-acclaimed IT (2017).
The film kicks off 27 years after ‘Losers’ of Derry a.k.a. the bunch of kids, portrayed by extremely talented young actors, who took up arms against the evil entity masquerading around the town as the clown “Pennywise”, going about gobbling up innocent children. The children defeated Pennywise in IT 2017 and vowed to come back to Derry if It a.k.a. Pennywise were to ever return. 27 years later, it seems like every single one of the Losers has moved on from the sprawling town of Derry and have found their new homes elsewhere, except Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa).
He gears up to reassemble the loser squad, however, mysteriously, they all seemed to have blurred memories of their time in Derry, especially fighting It. The memories, however, seem to resurface upon returning to Derry and hearing Mike, who never left Derry therefore never lost his memories, recount the events that unfolded 27 years ago. You have all your classic characters roles here - Beverly (Jessica Chastain), the only woman in the group who is like “the one who got away”. From who, you may ask? Well, there are characters who make up the classic love triangle including Bill (James McAvoy), the nervous, stuttering boy-turned-man who lost his brother to It in the first movie, and Ben (Jay Ryan) the new (overweight) kid on the block who’s now turned into a gorgeous man but still harbours feelings for Bev, who he shared a kiss with at the end of the first movie.
Then, you have your standard comic relief character Richie (Bill Hader) but who also has plenty of depth in his character and turned out to be a fan favourite, while Eddie (James Ransone) fits the hypochondriac, unwilling tag-along in the group who rises to the occasion and defeats the evil. There’s also Stanley (Andy Bean) who fell prey and succumbed to fear. Mike, who is like the sane father-figure of sorts, reunites the group in Derry and comes up with a seemingly ludicrous plan to “end It” once and for all.
Bill Skarsgård is absolutely brilliant as Pennywise and can transform from innocent to terrifying in a matter of seconds. His laugh, dialogue delivery and expressions were spot on the entire movie, including the controversial end.
Muschietti excelled at introducing the older versions of the Losers we were acquainted with and also bringing up real-life issues each one of them faced, so as to escape from the limiting shackles of horror film narratives. Beverly was revealed to have an abusive husband who she ditches to get to Derry, Bill still struggles with the death of his brother and feels responsible, in some way, for his death. Ben has overcompensated for being the overweight kid once by working out vigorously and becoming “hot”, but his insecurities haven’t faded away. Richie combats fear and stress with humour, so it makes sense that he is a comedian now. And Eddie, well, he’s just how he was as a kid, and his personality quirks have just mushroomed over the years. You do get to witness a solid character progression in most characters by the end of the film, with most of them tackling their demons in their own, personalised manner, which is applaud-worthy and materialises well on screen.
Unfortunately, once the Losers separate in Derry to find their own items of importance that will be used in the ritual to destroy It, the film completely loses its pace and the ability to grab the audience’s attention. It’s a mega yawn fest and this state, barring a new stellar scenes sprinkled across, continues well until the closing act of the film, which again picks up the pace, but marginally. Additionally, It Chapter 2 completely loses out on the ability to instil fear in the hearts of the audience as the first chapter did. There were a couple of jump scares, but most of them were laughably predictable. The in-your-face horror sequences which consisted of mangled faces, unsettling imagery, dismembered body parts and more were disturbing rather than scary, so thrill-seekers might be disappointed by the lack of nightmare-inducing horror elements.
One of the most crucial elements which was also a saving grace for the film was the comedy. Yes, the movie is absolutely hilarious and even some “scary” scenes such as the woman (It’s daughter?) staring at Bev caused the audience to giggle instinctively owing to the overwhelmingly comic nature of the first act. While comedy may have played a part in taking away the sheer horror of the film, it managed to breathe life into it and hold on to the slipping attention of the audience.
It (2017) was a coming of age film that used the plot of Pennywise and defeating him as a metaphor for growing up and losing your innocence, however, with the characters all grown up there are fewer ramifications of such kind and the film relies heavily on flashbacks, with barely any real or metaphorical life lesson to be learned.
Character development was definitely seen in a few, however, storylines such as Bev’s abusive husband were entirely ignored, and at the end, you could see her cruising away into the sunset with Ben. But is life ever that easy? A few scenes such as the hall of mirrors scene with Bill and Pennywise were brilliantly staged, but the last act of the film was downright ridiculous and underwhelming. It seemed like we endured what felt like the longest horror movie ever with stretched out sequences and yawn-inducing narratives to be hit with one of the most poorly written climaxes.
While It Chapter 2 definitely held promise, especially with the stellar first act of the film that broke the bounds of horror film clichés, the laboriously long preamble to the final act and the disappointing, emotionally-empty final act desecrate what could have been a fantastic sequel. The sequel curse seems to stand with this one, barring a few moments of excellence and stellar performances by the cast
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