Directed by Andy Muschietti
Starring: James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Bill Skarsgård
Runtime: 169 minutes
Rating: R (disturbing violent content and bloody images throughout, pervasive language, and some crude sexual material.)
As you can see from the start of this column, I’ve added the rating to my reviews. A reader reached out to me and asked I include it. I appreciate any feedback given and from now on you’ll know the rating and why.
This week we went on a journey (A long journey) with IT: Chapter Two. The IT franchise started as a book by renowned horror author Stephen King. The book was released in 1986 and subsequently in 1990 a “miniseries” based on the book was created. I can remember watching the “original” IT as a kid and being deathly afraid. Clowns are just not my thing. Same with possessed evil kids (I’m looking at you The Shining) IT: Chapter One was released in 2017 and I thought it was exceptional (5 stars out of 5 if I was writing) As I’ve alluded to in many columns my mom Karen Casebolt loves all things horror. She went with me to this week’s review and jumped during the previews. We were in for a long night.
Onto the film.
We start and hear eerie music with creepy kids singing. It sets the uneasiness to come. Already I’m thinking NOPE. We are in Derry, Maine in 1989. This film jumps between the younger versions of the main characters and the adults we travel with today. We see the pact the “Loser’s Club” made. If Pennywise the Clown (Skarsgård) ever returns, they will as well, and they will destroy IT.
27 years later.
We cut to a carnival in Derry and right smack in the middle is a giant Ferris wheel (insert joke from Tim Wolfe) A young couple is attacked by a group looking for trouble and one of the men is tossed over the bridge. His partner rushes to his aid, but it’s too late. Pennywise is here. We see written in blood. COME HOME.
We then take time (and a long time) meeting all the characters. Mike Hanlon (Mustafa) has stayed in Derry, Maine and has been following for when/if Pennywise returns. He senses this and starts making calls to the group. First is Bill (McAvoy) he’s a struggling screenwriter on a film for WB. I feel your pain Bill! He had a stutter as a child, but it seems to have passed and we see how everyone hates the endings he writes. We then meet the rest of the Losers Gang. Beverly (Chastain) is a fashion designer and judging from the size of her house is very successful. She is stuck in a loveless marriage with someone who treats her terribly. Reminiscent of her childhood. We meet Richie Tozier (Hader) who’s a successful comic. Ben Hanscom (Ryan) has grown up. He was the “fat kid” of the group and works successfully in architecture. Next we meet Eddie Kaspbrak (Ransome) he was the worrier of the group and continues this life as he is works in insurance risk management. Lastly, we meet Stanley Uris (Bean) an accountant and always the most scared of the group. I found it unlikely that everyone in the group was highly successful, but we are at the movies.
Let’s pause. The film took way to long to set this up. I understand creating backstory but meeting our heroes took a solid 30 to 45 minutes. I was bored. Mom hadn’t jumped since the previews. Things were not looking good.
Eventually the crew meet back in Derry and learn of the return of their nemesis of their childhood. To make things worse their “human” antagonist Henry Bowers (Grant) has escaped a mental institution and is after them as well.
You’d think with all this terror lurking things would be tense. It wasn’t. Time and time again I kept wondering how much longer was left? Eventually the horror picks up. The group needs to find their personal totems to help destroy Pennywise. Each goes off on their own. Again, this took too long. We then have another issue with the monsters. Pennywise has taken shapes of other beings to terrorize our characters and each time the CGI looked terrible. I’d expect this from a low budget film, but not a sequel to a huge blockbuster from two years ago. After every encounter I kept saying they are trying too hard. They are doing too much. The last film worked for me because for the most part the horror was subtle. Pennywise in the dark. The creepy laugh. The dark shadows. That worked. Bad CGI monsters charging our characters doesn’t. For Mom it did. So, if jump scares are your thing go see it.
This film isn’t a total miss. The main cast all shine in their roles. Each having their own quirks and their chemistry shows a real bond. I noticed nice chemistry between McAvoy and Chastain that only happens with two people who really click. I liked that. The humor was there too with Hader and at times Pennywise. My issues stem from the length of this film, and the terrible CGI. I understand this is a book and there’s a lot to talk about but condescending here and there wouldn’t have hurt. I wish that this would’ve taken a page from the previous film and been more subtle with the monsters and scares. Several scenes worked then failed showing the “Big Bad” If you’re in the mood for horror or loved the first see it. Just take a nap beforehand. Two stars out of five #SHOPLOCAL
Andrew McManus is Operations Manager for Patties & Pints and its parent company Eflow Development.He can be reached at [email protected] or 740-981-9158