'IT: Chapter Two' (2019) A Carnival of Horrors Movie Review
What Came Before It
Stephen King’s novel entitled IT is no doubt one of the famed author’s best known works in his long career of horror literature. One that I have honestly not had the pleasure of ever reading myself… Although, I have seen the 1990 miniseries of the same name starring Tim Curry! Do I at least get points for trying? Anyways, I am fond of the ‘90s IT miniseries; yes it’s campy and cheesy in parts, even ridiculous at times, but I mostly enjoy it. Tommy Lee Wallace as a director always tends to inject a good amount of haunted house type fun in his features and IT is no exception. Plus, of course we have the iconic role of Pennywise the Clown played incredibly played by Tim Curry who is perfect every second on screen. If anything, watching Curry have the time of his life as he torments these poor kids is simply a blast to experience.
Then along came the reboot in the form of IT: Chapter One in 2017; I have to say, in terms of horror remakes/reboots go, I actually enjoyed the flick. For the most part, the movie provided a fun and suspenseful house of horrors type adventure with seven extraordinary child leads who carried the film amazingly in their genuine and hilarious chemistry together. With that said, I had my qualms with the picture. Particularly in the handling of Pennywise the Clown, played this time by Bill Skarsgard. Not to say that the actor did a bad job by any means, in fact, I thought the performance he gave was solid… that is when the movie allowed him to have a performance. The majority of Pennywise’s screen presence was devoted to using him as nothing more than jump scare fuel and that is it. Pennywise was more of a tool for the movie to go “boogedy boo” rather than a legitimate antagonist. Which irritated the hell out of me by the time the credits rolled. Obviously it didn’t totally ruin my experience, but it was a disappointment to see glimpses of potential squandered for a number of cheap jump scares.
Twenty-seven years have passed since the Losers Club defeated Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), now most of the gang has grown up to move far away from their home town. That is until they receive word that the killer clown is up to no good once again, terrorizing the innocents of their defenseless town. Now it’s up to these kids turned adults to put an end to Pennywise once and for all.
A Three Hour Haunted House Ride
Truth be told, that is possibly the best way I can describe this second cinematic chapter; IT: Chapter Two is a horror epic where Pennywise, more or less, mentally screws with this really charismatic bunch of misfits. The scares are fun in a carnival of horrors fashion, the cinematography accomplishes a surreal grand scale, the creepy imagery is quirky in all the right ways, the performances across the board are solid, and Bill Skarsgard finally gets a real chance to stretch his legs for the sinister role of this evil clown. For me, this was a rollercoaster ride that surprisingly breezed by for the nearly three hour runtime.
The Losers Club
At the heart of every iteration for IT is the Losers Club. The component that will either make or break the experience for any moviegoer. 2017’s Chapter One, in my opinion, knocked it out of the park with a great lovability factor for all key players involved. Chapter Two somehow nailed it again with perfect casting that carries over the essence of each character from the first film. Every single one of these characters played by Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, and Andy Bean look and feel authentic as the adult versions of their child counterparts. One of my other minor complaints about the first chapter was the fact that the character of Mike (Chosen Jacobs/Isaiah Mustafa) and Stanley (Wyatt Oleff/Andy Bean) were left on the backburner. For Chapter Two, the Mike character was handled better with more time to grow. Unfortunately, I can’t really claim the same for the Stanley character. If anyone has seen or read the past versions of IT, then they may figure out why, but I won’t be spoiling anything here.
Other than that though, the entire cast does superb matching the mannerisms and personalities translating them from youth to adult. The standout for me, much like in the first chapter, came from the character of Richie who was performed by Finn Wolfhard and Bill Hader respectively. Richie always is able to get a laugh out of me and it is thanks largely due in part to the quick witted, energetic delivery from both actors. This time around there’s a bit more heart provided from the character that actually emotionally gripped me in certain scenes. Not to mention the absolute electric comedic chemistry between the characters of Richie and Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer/James Ransone) had me cracking up an awful lot. The four actors and their banter was truly fantastic, especially when reacting to some of the creepy happenings they have to go against.
When Characters Did Dumb Things
We all know that when it comes to a large margin of horror flicks, certain characters tend to do certain stupid things that instantly result in our eyes rolling. As much as I enjoyed Chapter Two, there were a few instances where a character would do something relatively idiotic. Granted, what I appreciated about when a character may make the wrong decision, the repercussions are mostly minor. As opposed to most horror films where if a character made a dumb move, it was forced in only to make the next plot point to happen or result in an annoyingly needless character death. Luckily, that doesn’t happen in IT: Chapter Two. Without spoiling anything, the character of Bill (Jaeden Martell/James McAvoy) makes the majority of stupid decisions when facing against Pennywise again. Falling for certain tricks obviously laid out by Pennywise or attempting to fight him alone when it’s clearly not the smart move, occasionally I thought to myself that he was a total moron. To an extent, I understood as to why his character got to those points in his arc, regardless they were still fairly moronic. The only reasons why these aren’t “movie breaking” for me is because nothing of tragic consequence never truly came about from his mistakes. They resulted in mostly some cool and suspenseful sequences that I enjoyed. If they had more significant impact on the plot then I would be more upset, but instead I got some entertainment value out of the “bad calls” so I was mostly fine.
The Dancing Clown
As I had mentioned previously, one of my biggest criticisms with the 2017 reboot was the underutilization of Skarsgard’s performance. Bill Skarsgard’s new Pennywise almost never felt as threatening of a figure as Tim Curry’s to me. With Curry, this felt like a menacing presence every time he appeared because of how non-threatening he was trying to seem. Curry’s performance was never cynically used to only provide jump scares or feel forcefully imposing, the imposing nature came from how innocent of a regular clown he disguised himself as and then the sudden reveal of him attacking made for better suspense. Skarsgard’s Pennywise in Chapter One was basically a prop to look creepy for the camera about every fifteen minutes or so. Occasionally, when the pacing slowed down to let Skarsgard’s performance be properly shown, he was menacing and I liked the little snippets that I was allowed to see. I just hoped for more.
Chapter Two, on the other hand, delivers exactly what I had hoped for Pennywise the first go around. Rarely does it feel like a cheap jump scare tactic anymore as Skarsgard is really given a lot of room to play with the sinister nature of this villainous clown. There are scenes where I was genuinely filled with anxiety watching as this predator toyed with his prey before striking. A terrific example of Skarsgard’s Pennywise tightening the strings of suspense is a scene involving the diabolical clown luring an unsuspecting young victim underneath the stadium bleachers at a school’s baseball game. Admittedly, the scene could have been easily cut as it pertains practically nothing to the main plot, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t add a hair-raising bit of horror through Skarsgard playing the scene flawlessly. Supplying that predatory sense of deceit that I relished from Curry’s portrayal, yet acted in a manner all of Skarsgard’s own talents. This time around, Pennywise is devilishly delightful to watch him let loose. Not even seeming as though his true goal is to kill the Losers Club, he simply wants to drive them crazy through some bat-sh*t insane hallucinations and haunting them at their most vulnerable using their greatest fears. It was quite the treat and held my attention the whole way through.
Structure, Editing, & Pacing
A reader may have noticed that I brought up the length of Chapter Two; that is correct, your eyes do not betray you. This film is two hours and fifty minutes long, no joke of a movie here. One might assume with all that time, there’s bound to be numerous lulls in the narrative that either drag or bore the viewer into aggravation. No, not really. Surprisingly enough, I wasn’t bored once throughout the entirety of the picture. Now, would I say that every scene is necessary and absolutely needed in order for story to hold coherence? No. In all honesty, I can come up with probably a dozen scenes off the top of my head that could have been given the axe and the overall narrative would have remained completely unscathed. Despite numerous scenes being technically unneeded, they were extremely entertaining. Every scene, whether pivotal to the plot or not, provided a function that kept me along for the ride. Be it plot and character development, humor, suspense, creepy visuals, haunted house styled fun, gorgeous cinematography, heartfelt emotion, etc.; there was always something that succeeded to entertain and keep me engaged in everything going on. There are eighty minute flicks that I’ve dreadfully trudged through this year that have felt longer than those three hours I spent in the theater watching IT: Chapter Two. If that doesn’t establish how well the pacing handles itself then I don’t know what will.
It’s Rated R
Frankly, there isn’t much to discuss on the subject. Reason why I bring up the R rating is mainly because I find it a breath of fresh air to get something like this. It’s not often for there to be a theatrically released, three hour horror epic that doesn’t shy away from displaying a gnarly blood-soaked galore of eye candy. Not a flawless masterpiece, but I respect the film for having more balls than most studios are willing to distribute. Plus, it helps that the majority of the special effects are solid. At the end of the day, don’t we all crave for a gory picture that kills some kids? No? Whoops.
IT: Chapter Two is a blast. Fans of the first picture should likely find themselves thoroughly entertained, regardless of the lengthy runtime. Is it perfect? No. Is it fun? Absolutely! I will say that if there is a particular demographic that doesn’t enjoy it because they feel that the movie is too long, I can definitely understand their argument. So if anyone reading this isn’t the type inclined to fancy a long sit, maybe it’s best to sit out this specific Stephen King adaptation. Especially since it benefits to have already viewed the first chapter in order to appreciate and follow along more fluidly in Chapter Two. Most likely a flick not for everyone, but it totally was a flick for me. Severed heads, blood drenching the screen, a deliciously creepy killer clown, a lively spooky tone with a pace that keeps the thrills flowing, and a remarkable cast to carry every scene. No doubt a welcome addition to the Halloween season!
Your Favorite IT?
What is your favorite version of Stephen King's 'IT'?
That’s All Folks!
IT: Chapter Two… I couldn’t afford to go to a professional haunted house, this made up for missing out on the scary carnival novelty. What did you think? Like or dislike? Agree or disagree? Paranoid that there’s a killer clown waiting behind every corner? They are. Comment down below and let me know! Also, if you so happened to have enjoyed my review then please do me a favor and share this article around the social media world. Thank you all so much for reading and have yourselves a coulrophobic day! That means to have a fear of clowns… Boogedy boo! Happy Halloween!
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© 2019 John Plocar