Not many of you know me, but those who do understand the genuine excitement and love I have for horror movies, old and new. When it was announced that Stephen King’s novel “It” would be getting another live-action adaptation, I leapt out of my seat with excitement. Three years later and here we are: the end of the line. Let us return to Derry...one...last...time.
“It: Chapter Two” was released on Sept. 6 and was directed by Andy Muschietti with a screenplay written by Gary Dauberman. This film had quite the all-star cast with James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain and Bill Hader joining Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan and Andy Bean as older versions of the Loser’s Club. Sharing the screen with their older selves are all of the original cast of “It: Chapter One” (2017) to fill in any flashbacks that the older characters have and, of course, Bill Skarsgård returns to continue his terror in the town of Derry, Maine.
The story takes place 27 years after the first film and tells the story of the Loser’s Club coming back to Derry after a new string of murders starts showing up as Pennywise the Clown has returned after his hibernation. They must traverse their old hometown in search of forgotten memories and use them in their final showdown with the monster. It is then up to them to finally put an end to IT’s killings and hopefully stop him once and for all.
As per the format of any movie review, I will begin by covering the pros of the film and where it is strongest and then go into the cons at the end to cover where it lacks.
The best thing, in my opinion, that this film has running for it is the excellent casting job by Rich Delia and his department. When I tell you that these actors and actresses look like the children versions of their characters, I mean it. The casting department did such a good job of finding people with mannerisms and characteristics that are nearly identical to the children in the first film.
Not to mention the acting of this film would be a sin in and of itself mostly because of the performances to come out of this movie. James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain kill it, as per usual, but the stand-out performance of the entire movie was Bill Hader as Richie Tozier, the foulmouthed class clown of the Losers’ Club.
Hader is funny, we all know this, but how he was able to dip into the deeper emotions of the character was the main reason I mentioned him. I can't say much about it because of spoilers, but I ask you, no, beg you, dear reader, that you pay attention to him on-screen because he will make you both laugh and cry.
I know that the story was originally written by Stephen King, but the overall story of the film was one of my favorite things to come out of the movie. This film did great in staying faithful to the source material and how it portrayed the story on the big screen, something that the 1990 mini-series lacked. It is not that they did not tell the story well, it is how they told the story that bothered me.
Though the miniseries had told the story the exact same way as the novel, the structure seemed very jumbled and confusing at times which really threw me off. The “IT” duology structured the two films in a singular and coherent way that both stayed loyal to King’s original work and kept it simple for the audience to follow along.
The computer-generated imagery is going to be included in both the pros and cons in this review, mostly because I am torn between the two ways it is used.
To cover the best, all of the CGI used for Pennywise and the monsters that it takes the form of is the best I have seen in a while, not counting “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” because a majority was practical in that film. There is this eerie and terrifying feeling that I associate with the monsters that show up in this film which would drive me under the bed if I ever came in contact with them in the real world.
Now that we have talked about the good to come out of this movie, the bad still lingers over me as I type these words down. It is not that there is more bad than good, but it is the fact that there is “a bad” to this film. I was really disappointed with some aspects of the film because I had built it up so much in my head, but as a reviewer, it is my job to point out where there are flaws in a movie even if it hurts (I am actively crying).
To pick up where I left off, while the CGI was quite good in some cases, there are some instances where it falls into a place called “the uncanny valley.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, “the uncanny valley” is a “phenomenon identified by a Japanese robotics professor in 1970 to explain why a not-quite-perfect representation of a human is so unnerving.” This phenomenon spans into film when CGI is used to either de-age an actor or revive a character when the actor has passed away.
This feeling happens when CGI is used to de-age a couple of the child actors as they have aged since the filming of the first film in 2016. I understand that this effect is needed so that the characters look the same, but I wish that it would look a bit better.
With this film being the sequel to the horror movie that scared me senseless, I expected it to be at least twice as scary as the original film. This expectation was sadly shot down after viewing this movie when I asked myself, “was that actually scary?” Unfortunately, this film was not as scary as the original, but still has a handful of pretty good scares.
At the end of the day, this is still a great movie with a fantastic story, cast and effects that will continue to amaze no matter how many times I see it. This film is a great presentation of how clowns were man’s greatest mistake and children’s greatest fear.