It Chapter 2 – Not Clowning Around
In recent years, it’s oddly surprising how hard it is to find good bone-chilling horror. Maybe it’s the internet providing us access to fearful imagery at any moment, ultimately numbing our ability to become scared, as I cannot say I’ve been creeped out by a movie in some time. Hereditary (2018) was the last horror to keep me awake at night but, before that, I can’t remember a single film to do so. Many people I’ve spoken to have expressed the same “horror not being scary anymore” views, leading me to conclude that, as a society, we are not as prone to being scared as we once were. This being a fact that IT Chapter 2 takes and runs with; instead of trying to scare the audience, focusing more on telling a compelling narrative with themes of horror sewn throughout.
After IT (2017) concluded with the losers club swearing an oath to kill Pennywise if he ever comes back, Chapter 2 sees that oath fulfilled 27 years after the first movie. Time has passed, the original characters have grown into adults, but they still have to do what their younger selves could not. Stop that killer clown for good. Yet, This doesn’t mean that the film is conclusively set in the present day. On many occasions we return to the 80s, looking at new situations set during and after the first film; Allowing us to look at the personal ways Pennywise affected the main cast while also digging deeper into their character, of which we had no time for in the first movie.
Speaking of the main cast, they are ultimately the best parts of the movie. Each member of the, now adult, losers club is narratively paired with another member of the group; simultaneously growing around each other. However, I would be lying if I said that there wasn’t a member of the losers club which I preferred seeing over the others. Much like Finn Wolfhard’s performance in the 2017 movie, Bill Hader, as the now grown-up Richie, steals the show whenever he is on screen. The other members of the losers club are all acting brilliantly and completely sell you on the fact that they hate the situation they are in, but Richie is the best of all of them. Every moment he is in is coupled with fun comedic sarcasm, that blends brilliantly with the harsh setting, while also being the character in which you end up feeling for most. If Bill Hader doesn’t win an award for this role, I’ll personally be complaining.
However, that’s what people are going to see. People want creepy imagery that will make them want to leave whilst having them unable to avert their eyes; something that this film delivers brilliantly. Bill Skarsgård reprises his role as Pennywise and you can feel the terror radiating off of him. Every twist, trick and nightmarish scenario he creates is expertly crafted and played to perfection. Constantly one-upping himself, creating situations of which scare the main cast deep and personally; however, don’t complain if it doesn’t scare you.
As I said at the beginning of this review, watching this to be scared is not this movie’s aim. Every moment of terror’s main purpose is to break the main characters further and further. Watching this film from afar and being scared for the main cast, rather than on behalf of the main cast, is the way to get the most enjoyment out of this movie. That doesn’t mean the visuals are not horrifying, mind you. Many a moment made me question the director’s sanity and, much like most modern horror, expect a jumpscare, or two.
Though, much like everything, this film does have several glaring flaws which hold it back from being a masterpiece. Several characters, who are introduced as being major threats throughout the movie, only rarely ever pop up before being disposed of completely. A few things about Pennywise also seem confused. There is a scene where an old woman is talking about her father, which flies closely towards the background of the titular clown whilst also undoing everything we know about his origins. The ending, while fitting the themes of the film, also seems very confused upon its execution (this might be intentional, though, as a running joke throughout the movie implies this being the case).
Yet, aside from those few glaring problems, this film is still amazing. By taking a more sensible look at horror, focusing on the main character’s fears rather than being scary for the sake of being scary, the film leaves a lasting impression that’ll make you want to watch it to it over and over. Within two movies, Andy Muschietti has made one of greatest horror series of all time and I’ll be closely keeping an eye on what he does next. If you are looking for something new to watch this Halloween, I couldn’t think of a film better suited for the creepiest day of the year.