I have to admit, I went in to IT Chapter 2 with relatively low expectations. I enjoyed the first movie starring Finn Wolfhard, Jaeden Martell, and not forgetting Bill Skasgard as the terrifying nightmare fuel, Pennywise the clown, but I didn’t love it either. For me, it wasn’t one of those movies that I would rush to watch again. The acting was good, the jump scares were okay…it was all just…meh. After watching the first film, I remember leaving the movie theatre feeling very ‘vanilla’ about the whole thing.
So you could imagine my surprise when I left the cinema on Saturday night feeling somewhat impressed. I’m going to put it out there right now, I think IT Chapter 2 is a significant improvement on the first, and it’s not often you could say that about any sequel, especially in the horror genre.
Firstly, the casting choices were absolutely spot on. This was emphasised by the flashbacks to the child actors from the first film. From James McAvoy’s painfully accurate stutter to James Ransone’s depiction of the neurotic, germaphobe Eddie, and even the childish and often blunt comedy from Bill Hader. All of the actors were scarily reminiscent of their younger counterparts, which resulted in an adult adventure film that could easily rival a Goonies remake, if it were surrounded by nightmarish, half-zombie, half-spider monsters…with a few severed baby limbs thrown in for good measure. Sound horrifying? That’s because it is.
You could argue that the plot isn’t anything revolutionary, but it doesn’t try to be either. In IT Chapter 2 Stephen King has firmly taken a page out of Stan Lee’s playbook and actually appears in the film as an eccentric shop-keeper in Derry. Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Stephen King. Salem’s Lot is one of my favourite books. But it’s not a secret that the godfather of horror, despite all his legendary tension building and all round awesomeness, can’t write a good ending. And best of all, he knows it too.
So when the film actively pokes fun at this through the character Bill Denbrough played by James McAvoy, who like King, also can’t write a good ending for his horror novel, I found myself giggling through the lacklustre ending. It’s not often you can say that about a film that ends kind of terribly. But I guess it’s hard to feel irritated when you’re subconsciously prepared for it.
For all its foibles, the camaraderie in this rag-tag group of friends is believable. It felt as though we were genuinely watching a group of old school friends taking on a psychotic, murdering clown. The comedy was well-placed without being too over baring, and there were touching moments that heightened the tension too. Overall it was entertaining, which is ultimately the aim of the game, right?
A small piece of advice, though; at nearly three hours long, make sure you have a good pee before you go in. Otherwise you’ll be squirming until the end, or you’ll have to run the gauntlet at some point during the film. And if you leave it until that bathroom scene with Jessica Chastain, you might never want to go into a bathroom stall again.
I rate this movie seven psychotic, child-eating clowns out of ten.