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MOVIE REVIEW: FTN reviews IT: Chapter 2

September 4th, 2019 by Mark McCann Comments

It Chapter Two (15)
Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Starring: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader & Bill Skarsgård
Running time: 2hrs 49mins

Twenty-seven years after their first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back.

It’s safe to say that, as a reviewer, I was in the minority when covering IT Chapter One; by any standard it was both a critical and commercial success, grossing $700.4 million in the box office. I however, didn’t like it.

For pedantic reasons like the anachronistic feel of a 50s story tonally being set in the 80s, but also because much of the horror seemed overt and lacking sophistication… it was blunt, rather than subtle. And most importantly, it didn’t scare me. For a King adaptation I found it lacking.

Needless to say, audiences loved it.

Knowledge that in hindsight saw me entering the sequel less pessimistic than I could have been. In essence, as both a King fan and horror aficionado, I wanted to be proven wrong. With this in mind, this review will be spoiler free, and is essentially just my opinion. And that is, that IT Chapter 2 isn’t a bad film. I just didn’t think it was a particularly good one.

The story has a fine template and the cast are all perfectly serviceable, with a grand ensemble filling out the roles of their teen-counterparts. The difficulties arise in the execution. First off, IT manages to still be incredibly gory for a 15. This could have been effective, especially in some of the creepier scenes, were it not anchored by the element that totally derailed this movie’s horror cred for me from the get-go; the over-use of humour to punctuate the horror.

Bill Hader and James Ransone, Hader in particular known for his comedy work, are continual foils for laughs. At jump points and creepy moments, either character always seemed to be on hand to shave the edge off of the scene with a line or a moment of buffoonery. The rest of the cast, Jessica Chastain in particular, play largely straight roles.

Chastain is the only character encumbered with deeper character moments, although James McAvoy’s arc as Will is the greater group arc. Isiah Mustafa forms the glue but is sadly given nothing much to do. That said, he’d make an excellent stunt double for a young Denzel Washington.

The main plot, and subsequent subplots, while an interesting premise, all too often stray into cliché territory. Scenes designed to pluck the viewer’s heartstrings can be seen coming miles off, and the real tragedy is some of the subplots have barely any room to develop, only to be tied up before things get interesting.

Pennywise himself has some genuinely unnerving scenes. All credit due to Bill Skarsgard, as he puts in a superb performance as the demented entity. Again, were it not for the cheap laughs he would have been more effective.

The CGI over-kill in the final act was extra deflating in this sense, trading what could have been claustrophobic fear with a lurking Skarsgard for a video game end boss fight. When will Hollywood learn that the ‘uncanny valley’ factor dictates and people are more likely to be terrified by someone in a suit that is real, than a massive CGI manifestation that we all know is made on a computer?

That and my overall bugbear that the movie was played for laughs were enough to scuttle IT. In fact, at times this adaptation felt like a side-quel to Ghostbusters, rather than a character-driven masterclass in terror. I’m not sure if this was intentional, and I’m also not sure what way it will play for audiences, with the 80s Nostalgia largely absent, replaced by grown-up angst and the sad diaspora of the group as adults.

What I will say is that IT is an okay movie. A comedy pretending to be a horror, and a character piece swimming in clichés. If you’ve got nothing better to do on Saturday night, you might as well.

3 out of 5 Nerds


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I came here in a time machine from the 1980s. The time machine was called childhood. I'm getting back there at all costs! (I also live, love, write, lift & pet cats wherever I may find them.)