After a dazzling box-office run that had it amass the highest of grosses and score ample applauses back in 2017, the producers at New Line Cinema have stated that a sequel to the critically-acclaimed horror flick IT was already in the works. As the news circulated, announcing that Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy were cast for the leading roles alongside the witty Bill Skarsgard, our anticipation for this film grew fervid, given that it’s set to exhibit the latter chapters of Stephen King’s novel that trails the proceedings of the first film. Two years after the release of IT, this September has marked the release of the franchise’s latest installment IT: Chapter Two, tracking the return of the quirky dancing clown Pennywise to the amicable town of Derry.
Following their first encounter with Pennywise during the summer of 1989, IT: Chapter Two trails the lives of the members of the Losers club, 27 years after they moved out of their hometown, dodging their traumas and stepping into adulthood. However, things start to go south when, upon receiving a phone call, they’re compelled to head back to Derry to honor their old oath, where they’re destined for one last pivotal confrontation with the eerie clown as they aim to right the wrongs of their past and make peace with their bygones, soughting salvation.
Without a doubt, 2017’s IT portrayed a fresh intriguing look at horror flicks and the versatilities that such genre acquires. Furthermore, it manifested the far-reaching potential of this genre and how it could break into new grounds when entwined with other genres. Following the formula that has previously worked its magic in cinema as has happened with 2009’s Zombieland and 2004’s Shaun Of The Dead, IT depicted juxtaposition between buoyant comedy and gory horror, constituting a sublime experience for the contrary feelings that such productions elicit, setting IT apart from modern-day horror franchises. However, the first installment of the Pennywise franchise had another solid pillar, which was the distinct delineation of its characters, who were all well-developed and thoroughly presented. This had all protagonists be of interest for the viewer, and it had us become whole with the characters, so the comedy was hilarious, and the horror was daunting.
Picking up where IT had left off, IT: Chapter 2 avails from the feats of its predecessor and the far-sighted setups that the director has concocted back in 2017. As it revives the gist of IT, the sequel portrays a solid continuation of the personas of the main characters. The protagonists imbibe the same alacrity and liveliness that they had in the first feature, so they are just as amiable as their younger selves; only shrewder now that they made it big in their careers and lives after they stood their ground against the malevolence of Pennywise. A large part of pulling this off was due to the criteria of the selection process for casting actors who have great resemblances to the youngsters of the first flick in regards to the facial features and behavioral attitudes. For that, the 27-year transition was quite smooth.
Nevertheless, this sequel has leveled with the standards of IT with regards to its horror-meets-comedy meld, boosted by proactive characters and an aged opposition. The film hits the right notes through its adequate employment of comedy and similar to the 2017 feature, the characters have good chemistry that culminates throughout their lighthearted dialogues and gags. Through its adequate buildup and spontaneous flow, the comedy doesn’t impose on the proceedings nor does it impede the film’s flow as it engenders laughter throughout all chapters.
The horror, on the other hand, is agitating yet quite fluctuant; at some chapters it’s sublime, while at others it’s just plain old-school casual horror. Unlike the first installment, IT: Chapter 2 is heavily reliant on jump scares as they infuse the picture. Creepy moments, on a similar note, are only used in a sole sequence, where the negative spaces and corners of every frame comprise acute details, and it’s utterly jittery. It was quite unfortunate to eye the wasted potential of such approach, given that the film offers much room for portraying subtle eeriness yet the filmmakers opted for the conventional mainstream approach to create unsettling scenes. However, the film manages to conjure up some nifty intense sequences, topped by the one conducted in a mirror maze featuring James McAvoy. It definitely stands out.
Apart from being primarily categorized as a horror film, IT: Chapter 2 encompasses some heartening aspects that enriches its premise and embellishes its viewing experience, the first of which is its coming-of-age motifs. Given that its runtime is almost three hours, the film tackles a handful of themes related to adulthood besides its thrilling plot, shedding light on bullying, domestic violence and patriarchy. It also exhibits the expectations-versus-reality frustrations as it highlights the gap between the juveniles’ towering expectations for their future and how they actually reflect on these hopes after becoming fully-fledged adults. It was mainly due to the flashback narrative of the film as well as its R rating that had it tackle such matters in a profound way, and it was quite satisfactory.
The third act of the film, however, is its weakest chapters for it’s quite lengthier than it should’ve been. Additionally, the final opposition lacks the proper unnerving buildup that should’ve gradually escalated towards this supposedly-tense moment. Instead, such confrontation came out as a fainted adrenaline-free battle, infused with glossy visuals and over-the-top mainstream VFX. Frankly, the showdown that put the Losers up against Pennywise falls short of the expectations of the audience, who sat through a total of five hours of runtime of IT and IT: Chapter Two to witness such conclusive yet mundane finale. Had the final opposition been more concise and visually authentic, it would’ve constituted a more rewarding ending to the series.
If you’re a fan of 2017’s IT, then you must attend this one in theatres. It slightly lags behind the first movie yet maintains most of its fortes. Also, this installment features a very pleasant cameo for all bookworms, and it pays tribute to 1980’s The Shining and 1982’s The Thing as it encompasses Easter eggs from such films that would definitely arouse every diehard fan of the genre. So, make sure you catch up with the Losers club in cinemas this month!