As far as the movie industry is concerned, the summer is over and now we are heading firmly into the autumn/Halloween season. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark kicked things off a couple of weeks ago, and now the really big horror story of the moment has arrived – It Chapter 2.
For those who have missed all of the advertising and buzz surrounding this movie – of which there has been a lot – this is the sequel to 2017’s It. Both this film and its predecessor are adaptations of Stephen King’s best-selling novel of the same name, about a group of friends and their encounters with a deadly entity.
The reason there are two films is because King’s book is huge – far too large to be adapted into one movie. As such, the story has been carved up into twin offerings, which began with director Andy Muschietti’s It (set during the 1980s) and ending with this follow-up (set during the present day).
When It opened in 2017, I was a big fan. The movie captured the spirit of the 1980s perfectly; the cast were superb; and I was more than happy to spend a couple of hours in this world – even if it was a terrifying experience.
Knowing that a sequel was on the horizon I was excited to come back for more. And now that I’ve seen this movie, I’m pleased to say I was not disappointed.
It Chapter 2 is a very good movie. It’s not perfect – more about that shortly – but it is a triumphant return to Derry.
This is a film that understands what it needs to do to provide a satisfying conclusion and it delivers. As with Chapter 1, director Andy Muschietti demonstrates once again that he can adapt Stephen King in a way that other directors can’t and the result is clear for all to see.
He can juggle multiple characters, and different time periods, yet still keep things ticking along nicely. He also has the confidence not to feel like he has to ‘up the ante’ at every opportunity.
For this second part he could have thrown the kitchen sink at the screen, and made things grander than before to round out this two-part story, but he doesn’t do that. He simply serves up a satisfying continuation/conclusion that sits comfortably alongside its counterpart – and he deserves much praise for this.
So, what does this movie get right?
Well, those who have seen It Chapter 1 will recall the movie’s horrifying opener, featuring a storm drain and a little boy named Georgie. It was a brutal way to start the film, and it was a hard act to follow.
It Chapter 2 has an equally brutal opening that not only sets the tone for the sequel, but also stands toe-to-toe with what happened to Georgie in Chapter 1. The scene involves two guys, a gang, and a hate crime.
The decision to start the movie this way not only throws the audience head first into the story, but also demonstrates this isn’t a film keen to serve up a nice time. Muschietti is telling the audience it will be tested. It will not feel comfortable. It will be disturbed.
And this is just the beginning – there are some truly dark moments in this movie and the opening is just one of them. A particular highlight? A scene involving a young girl at a sporting event.
I won’t say anymore – you’ll know when you see it – but let’s just say it will have you squirming in your seat as you pray you can help the girl escape the clutches of Pennywise. Which of course… you can’t.
But it’s not all horror that works here. Perhaps the most surprising thing about this movie is just how much fun it is.
There are jokes dotted throughout the film. Not only are they a welcome addition, they really help to lift the tension and the darker moments of the story.
So, that’s horror and humour – but what else?
How about the cast?
The cast for Chapter 1 were the shinning beacon of the first movie and the cast for this second film don’t drop the ball. They embody the look and feel of their younger counterparts and ensure we get characters we want to root for.
Best of all, this time around we get two casts for the price of one, as there are a number of flashback sequences which return the action back to the 1980s. These scenes help to further embed the cast into the story and remind us why the first movie worked so well.
Outside of this, the film is loaded with tension, suspense, and some gruesome moments. Horror fans will truly have a blast with the film and Pennywise retains his position as a horror icon.
OK, so it’s clear that I liked It Chapter 2, but at the beginning of this review I said that the movie wasn’t perfect and I need to address this comment. It Chapter 2 is too long.
I enjoyed being immersed in this world, but this film runs just a little too long for my liking. There were various points in the movie that could have easily been trimmed down – not by vast cuts, but with a few edits to shave a minute or two here and there.
Some of the lengthy character development could have been tweaked a little. Perhaps a subplot involving the town bully could have been dropped. I don’t know, I simply feel some editing should have taken place.
I’m not saying that any of the material was bad – it wasn’t, Muschietti had a fantastic handle on King’s work – but it was perhaps too much material at times. The film felt like an extended cut more suited to home video.
Maybe I will change my mind on a second viewing. My husband watched the movie with me and he didn’t think it was too long at all, so perhaps I was just not prepared for its three-hour run time.
Putting that aside, my only other issue with the film was some of the CGI. Some worked, some didn’t.
During scenes where I expected the computer-generated images to fall flat, such as during the finale, the effects held up. Yet during some of the smaller moments things fell apart (e.g. the Chinese restaurant scene).
So, running time and CGI were my two issues. That is all.
Without doubt, It Chapter 2 is a movie that deserves praise. The film – and its predecessor – deserve to be regarded as horror classics and I believe they will be for years to come.
My only concern now is that we may get a third chapter. Internet rumblings have suggested Warner Bros. Pictures is toying with the idea of an It prequel, to fill in the background on who Pennywise is.
As much as I am a fan of both these movies, I don’t particularly want to see another film. The story is done – and done very well. Let’s leave it here and all agree to come back to it periodically when the time is right and not before.