To be honest, It has never been one of my favourite Stephen King horror stories. I much prefer Misery, The Shining, and especially Carrie. Still, the novel (and especially the 1990 TV mini-series) proved hugely popular, which brings us to this, the second of Andy Muschietti’s two part adaptation. The previous film I liked with reservations. This one, I like with a few more reservations.
Picking up twenty-seven years after events of the first film, It: Chapter Two sees the now adult members of the “Losers Club” return to their home town, to counter the return of malevolent supernatural clown Pennywise once and for all. In doing so, all the characters face demons from their past, to entertaining albeit protracted effect (this clocks in at nearly three hours long).
Performances – from the likes of James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain – are all good. The direction is solid, and the money is certainly up there on screen. Unfortunately, that’s part of the problem. Somehow all the CGI spectacle drowns out the scares (for me at least). The jokes also undercut the fear factor at times, and so do the obvious in-joke references to other horror films (everything from The Thing to Poltergeist). There’s even a silly Stephen King cameo amongst the many things that could have been trimmed to curtail over-length. The idea of the demonic Pennywise didn’t make a lick of sense to start with, and here, as origin explanation attempts are made, the whole premise becomes even less coherent.
I suppose those with clown phobia will find this creepy, and some of the set pieces are effective (an early one involving fortune cookies stood out for me), but as with the previous film, the real monsters are human. Indeed, the most frightening and downright disturbing sequence came at the start, with a truly vicious (and arguably gratuitous) homophobic attack. It’s a very nasty opening which quite honestly I felt belonged in a different film. Here I should add the usual warnings for violence, buckets of gore, and swearing.
In summary, I expect It: Chapter Two will be a big hit, just like the previous film. And like the previous film, I enjoyed It, despite the flaws, without getting particularly excited about it.