“For 27 years, I’ve dreamt of you. I craved you. Oh I’ve missed you! Waiting for this very moment. TIME TO FLOAT.” – Pennywise
Rating – ★★★½
2017 saw Stephen King’s It being brought to the big screen for the first time. Thanks to Andy Muschietti’s handling of the material, the movie was a huge success that received endless praise from critics and enthused cinema goers alike. It blended a coming of age story with a horror angle in the way of Bill Skarsgård’s portrayal of the infamous dancing clown, Pennywise.
Viewing it from the perspective of someone who has never read the book, I was pleasantly surprised by the overall composition and layout of the movie. It exceeded any expectations I may have had going in, so much so, that the reveal of a second chapter in the films closing moments, was very much welcomed and immediately anticipated. Fast forward 27 years and what was once feared may come back to haunt the ‘Losers Club’ does exactly that, as he’s not finished terrorising the residents of Derry just yet.
After thwarting Derry’s demon the first time around, Pennywise’s expected return brings the members of the Losers Club back together again after 27 years of separation. Their reunion is somewhat interrupted when the clown gets back to his terrifying party tricks, reminding the gang of what once tainted their childhoods and what’s in store for them if they choose to stay.
Firstly and I know I’m not the only person to touch on this subject, but it should be said that the casting choices are sublime. Each adult actor perfectly encapsulates not only the looks but also the mannerisms of their younger counterparts. To top it off they all do a fantastic job of keeping the chemistry and irrefutable humour that was so crucial to chapter 1’s success, very much alive.
Mike (Isaiah Mustafa) gets a much bigger role through this chapter, certainly in terms of kicking off the story and with most of its progression. Bill and Beverly (James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain) are expectedly given the most in regards to back story and overall character development. Although as a collective you feel the narrative would just crumble without all of these characters, it’s without Richie and Eddie (Bill Hader, James Ransone) that this would feel most apparent. The scene stealers pretty much throughout, delivering the better part of the humorous quips and silly one liners that drives the movie to its highest moments.
Skarsgård proves his first outing as Pennywise the clown wasn’t just a fluke. Still as dark, menacing but more to the point, manages to find the right blend of horrifying and hilarious. Without his sinister presence, It Chapter 2 doesn’t work as a horror and with his dissaperance feeling lengthy at times, this is where you may consider this sequel to be a failure.
The story isn’t quite as well held together. With a runtime nearing the three hour mark, you can certainly see in parts where the movie has been stretched almost to the brink of breaking point. The gang go through numerous stages of being split up and it’s these moments that are predominantly the films weakest. It’s their connection that drives its narrative to the heights that the structure and familiar jump scare style of horror can’t quite reach.
As was the case with the first part of the story, the imagery is so crisp and alluring you often find yourself getting lost in its incredibly well shot set pieces. Partnered with a spine-chilling soundtrack that makes you feel as uncomfortable as the characters living the real nightmare, the movie creates an atmosphere that most other modern day horrors can’t seem to match.
It’s tough to say wether or not It Chapter 2 fails as a horror, but it certainly doesn’t fail in regards to the general aspects of what makes a movie successful. What it may lack in actual fear factor and choppy storytelling, it makes up for with its charming character writing and enticing cinematography. Although perhaps not being as polished as the first chapter, with some parts of it even sinking due to high anticipation, the movie as a whole does indeed float too.