In 2017 cinemagoers were introduced to the Loser’s Club. This motley band of misfits took on a horrifying force of malevolence and defeated it, barely. Now 2 years later audiences get to see what happens to the kids now that they’re all grown up and Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) is back for revenge. This is IT: Chapter Two and here are my thoughts on the return of the demonic clown and his foes, the Loser’s Club.
27 years have passed since the Loser’s Club defeated It. Only one remains in Derry. Mike (Isaiah Mustafa) has taken it upon himself to be a caretaker of sorts within Derry. He makes sure that if/when It returns he’ll summon the Loser’s Club home and as luck would have it, unfortunately, It seems to have returned and It’s up to its old tricks again. That was a ridiculous sentence and I apologise for it (heh).
So Mike makes the call and summons the gang from all across America. Each of them are now quite successful. Richie (Bill Hader) is now an adored comedian, Billy (James McAvoy) is a celebrated mystery author, Beverly (Jessica Chastain) is a fashion designer, Ben (Jay Ryan) is an architect, Stanley (Andy Bean)is a partner in an accounting firm and Eddie (James Ransone) is a risk assessment agent.
When they return to Derry they’re not quite sure why they’re so frightened. This stems from them not remembering the events of that eventful summer. There seems to be a supernatural force at work stopping them from recalling what happened. However, it is not long before their memories return and with it, they begin to understand the depth of the evil within Derry and what they must do to stop it once and for all.
Welcome back to Derry
IT: Chapter Two is a nostalgia trip that has a bite to it. It’s not as terrifying as the first film but what it lacks in terror it makes up for in its emotional weight. The cast that director Andy Muschietti has brought together for the conclusion of the IT story is a stellar one. You feel the connection between these characters which is a tall order for a cast who have to feel like a family from the word go. The back and forth between Eddie and Richie feels genuine even though they are two different actors in the roles.
I always say if you can care for your characters then the horror is elevated and that is prevalent with IT: Chapter Two. When It appears in its various forms, whether it be Pennywise or some others that I won’t spoil here, It is terrifying because you are scared for these characters and the people they care about. The scares sadly aren’t as potent. Some scares even feel like It is pulling from its Greatest Hits album instead of trying something new.
Now there are still some unreal and disturbing moments sprinkled throughout the film. One particular scare involves fortune cookies and the imagery on show is quite, distinctive. Not only that Pennywise is still quite the force to be reckoned with. Skarsgard still brings that distinctively over the top madness to the role and I loved seeing him on the screen every time he popped up.
On top of the distinct and at times terrifying imagery IT: Chapter Two keeps its impressive cinematography. The Dutch tilt camera style utilised in certain scenes feels surreal as well as having a sense of camp to them which adds yet another layer of surrealism to many of the scenes. This compounds the sense of disarray It has on the world around the Losers.
IT doesn’t live up to the hype
Unfortunately, not everything works in favour of IT: Chapter Two. First off Mike once again is relegated to exposition spouter. Not only that he is not given nearly as much character exploration as the rest of the Losers. He disappears for a large chunk of the film and it’s a shame because it is clear there is a story to tell with Mike’s self-imposed exile.
Then there comes the choice to split the gang up early in the film. They all have mini-quests to complete before they can face the final boss that is It. These segments are extended vignette’s that further explore the characters and their past.
Though they are interesting and we learn some fascinating elements about our favourite characters. except for Mike unfortunately, they are structured far too predictably. Once you see one of the sections they all play out the same. The characters look for an item, they are attacked by It, rinse and repeat and with a cast this size that’s a long wash. This feels far too rudimentary and amateurish and I think it could have been executed better.
There is also the runtime of IT: Chapter Two that drags it down like a lead balloon. Clocking in 169 minutes the film has a lot of fat on it and it’s a real shame. There are at least 20 minutes they could shave away, one way they could have dealt with this would have been to leave a returning character on the cutting room floor.
There is also the tone shifts that happen throughout the film. The film shifts from comedy/drama to horror at such a speed you may get whiplash. The kids felt so genuine in the original. With both their horror and gallows humour. Unfortunately, the adult cast just doesn’t work as well with this tonal shift.
Does IT: Chapter Two float?
In my opinion IT: Chapter Two is a feature-length episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with all the pros and cons that come with that mantle. The banter between the cast is compelling and the emotional weight of the situation at times can bring genuine tears. Sadly a bloated runtime, tonal issues and an unfocused story structure at times stop it from being the film I had hoped for.
IT: Chapter Two is an enjoyable film but it is the most disappointing film for me this year thus far. Stay tuned to Scannain for more news, reviews, and so much more in the film industry.