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It: Chapter Two (2019)

September 9th, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 11 Comments

Since the release of the first segment of Stephen King’s IT in 2017, horror fans have been pretty much spoiled with back to back better than average genre fare. The crop has been so high caliber it’s hard to believe there was ever a time when weeks and weeks would go by without any worthwhile releases. We’ve had it so good lately that a movie that emotionally resonates and is chuck full of visionary images of horror can somehow be shrugged off and deemed simply passable or even disappointing. I don’t get it. I loved the ever so epic IT: Chapter 2 and can’t imagine the source material being handled much better. Yeah, I guess it is a little long with its somewhat flabby and redundant midway section but you know the tome it’s based on weighs twenty pounds and features a giant space turtle right? I think director Andy Muschietti has accomplished the nearly impossible and then some. Really, the fact that another interpretation of Pennywise the clown can exist in the same universe as Tim Curry’s beyond iconic take is a feat in itself. Sorry, I’m just feeling kind of grateful that this two-part horror bonanza occurred in my lifetime and that it blessedly takes place in a time frame perfect for me to relate to. I do wish Chapter 2 was wise enough to take advantage of another song by The Cure but whatayagonnado? I can’t pretend I don’t love Cameo’s “Word Up” too.

And hip-hip halleluiah, Chapter 2 has the admirable audacity to jump right into the deep end opening its curtains to the deadly homophobic hate crime that haunted the hell out of me when I first read the book. I don’t care what anyone says, this scene (which is based on a real incident that took place in Bangor, Maine in 1984, two years before IT was published) is crucial to me; it sets the tone of the entire tale and pretty succinctly tells you everything thing you need to know about the not as friendly as it looks town of Derry (I’m sure they thought of including the incident in the 1990 miniseries for exactly zero point zero seconds). There’s admittedly a bit of a risk that such a realistic act of violence would feel abruptly out of place opening what is essentially a horror fantasy but the way it bookends with a revelation concerning Richie Tozier (Bill Hader) balances things out quite well. I’m sure Richie’s newfound direction is not going to go over well with everyone but I think it fits in as snuggly as a missing puzzle piece and besides, King himself has granted his seal of approval. (That reminds me- King has a cameo in this movie as a shopkeeper and it’s by far my favorite he’s ever done as he blasts authors who aren’t particularly good at providing satisfying conclusions to their books, it’s mucho hilarious).

Some folks will tell you IT Chapter 2 goes a little overboard with the CGI and borderline cartoonish special effects and I guess that’s just a matter of personal taste. I personally appreciate that you never know when a rubbery looking, eight-foot-tall funhouse denizen is going to jump out of nowhere and chase someone with arms flailing about and slimy drool pouring from its lips. If there is a reason such an abomination might vomit all over a character to the tune of Juice Newton’s “Angel of the Morning,” I have no idea what it is, but it certainly adds unpredictability to the bonkers phantasmagorical swirling smorgasbord, which is right in line with King’s hallucinatory original intentions. Yep, there’s an absolutely shameless tribute to JOHN CARPENTER’s THE THING plopped down in the middle of this flick and it’s almost way too on the nose and yet, King himself referenced Universal horror icons (Wolf Man, Mummy, Gill-Man) of the original time period in the book so I guess it’s fair game. It’s a little gimmicky, a little cheap but what the hell kind of horror fan is going to complain about such a thing? Pennywise’s ultimate boss battle form saves his big expressive head and tacks it onto some kind of part scorpion/part spider/part Beetlejuice creature that’s a little trying on my too-slow peepers but hey, I’m old enough to remember when rendering such a monstrosity would be impossible so I’m here to happily digest it. It probably all looks a little too visually similar to the climax of the first film (maybe a contrasting color scheme may have helped?) but I still think it looks better than any attempt to faithfully create how things go down in the book ever would. Thankfully Muschietti seems to understand what’s translatable and what’s not and his shorthand saves the day. There are a couple cringe moments I guess, I found lil’ Georgie’s “You lied and I died” mantra tired at best but since it leads to Bill (JAMES McAVOY)’s realization that self-forgiveness is the key to moving forward, I’m more than happy to let it slide.

It’s not often we get a horror movie with such a vibrant romantic element either. I know I’m a sucker but I’m still shocked this movie was able to get me to ship a Beverly (JESSICA CHASTAIN) and Ben (JAY RYAN) union so hard. Which brings me to another strong element- if ever there was ever an Oscar award given out for casting this baby would be a shoe-in. Many times the blending of the character traits and features is damn eerie. Muschietti even goes so far at one point as to superimpose young and older Eddie’s (JACK DYLAN GRAZER, JAMES RANSOME respectively) faces on top of each other and uncanny doesn’t even begin to cover it. I guess at the end of the day, much like KING’s book, what really matters is how much you connect with the characters. I love all of these guys and somehow that even includes the returning bullies (though one of them is now just a rotting corpse). Mileage may vary but I think it’s likely to vary based on how much empathy you have toward those on screen. IT’s red balloon is always going to float higher for those of us who have experienced bullying, smothering parents, domestic abuse, gay-bashing, psychosomatic asthma, speech impediments, alienating birthmarks, familial deaths, advanced leprosy, horrible customer service at the pharmacy, etc., etc., etc.. Truly, if you’ve ever been chased down the street by a murderous, twenty-foot tall lumberjack this is basically the ONLY movie that understands your pain. I may be biased though, if there’s a story that better illustrated the importance of calling out and facing childhood traumas rather than running from and repressing them, I just don’t know what IT is.

Tags: General Horror




11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Sep 9, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    Full disclosure: I always thought the term was “shoe-in” and wordpress just informed me it’s “shoo-in” and I feel like there’s some Mandela effect business going on…

    Also: I gotta tell, ya Aunt John hated the first IT so I told him not to even bother with this one..if you didn’t like the first part than stay away for sure. I don’t think chapter 2 is as good as Chapter 1 but I think that’s just the nature of the beast. Be it movie, book or miniseries, I think the first part is better.

    Also I forgot to mention that the abandoned movie theater with the shredded poster for YOU GOT MAIL inside really hit me in the gut. So maybe this story just naturally appeals to the more nostalgic folks?

  • 2 bloodymaryNo Gravatar // Sep 9, 2019 at 3:28 pm

    I went to the theater intending to see it and decided to see Ready or Not on your recommendation. I was planning on going back the next day to see IT but I realized three hours is a long time when I didn’t remember or like the first one. I’m looking forward to seeing the Pennywise parts at home. Good advice from you all around 🙂

  • 3 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Sep 9, 2019 at 5:31 pm

    bloodymary,
    I’m so glad you went to see READY OR NOT! Such a great movie and deserves the support!

    And yep, it’s not a bad idea to save Pennywise for the home turf. I saw IT during a sunny day I was trying to kill/avoid so the longer it was the better it was for me. I can’t imagine watching it w/ a full theater at night when I was itching to go home- 3 hours is kind of pushing it. I really liked the movie but realistically it could have shaved off about 20 minutes and added them later for an extended version.

    I did see someone saying today that IT: C2 was not scary at all and I disagree with that- there’s a scene under some bleachers with Pennywise and a little girl that I thought was pretty scary and the bit w/ Beverly and the old lady is great- but they should have kept it out of the trailer.

  • 4 Luki8701No Gravatar // Sep 10, 2019 at 2:16 am

    Okay, let me just say, I do not get the negativity this movie is getting.

    It’s not scary? First of all, “scary” is extremely subjective. I have not been scared by any piece of media in 20 years, does that mean every horror movie /book I saw/read was a failure? Hardly.

    Second of all, what exactly is wrong with a horror movie that just wants to have a bit of fun, instead of having characters endlessly wander dark hallways in search of a next jump scare? Did people forgot all those wonderful FUN horror movies from the 80s?

    Seriously, after a decade of grimdark tryhard horror and another one of endless rehashed ghost stories, we had a pretty much entire year filled with FUN, QUIRKY horror movies that are not afraid to be WEIRD and FUNNY and EMOTIONAL.

    We had Happy Death Day 2U, Child’s Play remake, Midsommar, Ready or Not and now IT2. All these movies are not perfect, some of their elements did not exactly work, some of their comedy was too broad, some were edited down to bone by stupid studio executives, but whatever, they were fun and refreshing. There are literally hundreds of new horror movies out there every year, so what if some of them try to be different?

    That is literally what I love about horror. You can have silly, over the top supernatural extragavanza on one end and dark, gritty realistic mindfuck on the other, and both belong to the same, awesome genre.

    Again, I do not get the negativity surrounding this movie.

    I love the book, it holds a special place in my heart, but I know it is impossible to properly translate all it’s content into a movie.

    And I am perfectly fine with this big, blockbuster Hollywood version of IT, especially one that is filled to the brim with amazing actors, great music, cool visuals and lots and lots of heart.

    Yes the CGI was distracting, especially the de-aging of the kids. Yes some of the humor was too broad and random. But what. When was the last time you saw a horror movie this big, this crazy, this fun in theatres?

  • 5 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Sep 10, 2019 at 10:39 am

    Luki8701,
    That’s great to hear- I’m glad you loved IT so much! I feel ya. There’s something about the general monster mash atmosphere that I find refreshing and much needed. It wasn’t that long ago that we were expected to live off of Paranormal Activity movies (no offense to fans but they’re visually bland and sadly monster-free) and we’re getting to the point that the James Wan Insidious/Conjuring cycle/approach is getting exasperating with the slow build-ups and now predictable misdirection scares. IT:C2 is super vibrant and in your face and the whole eighties storyboarded load, slimy monster thing is a welcome relief.

    The first IT was so successful that I’m guessing Muschietti had a lot more power to get weird and do his own thing and it’s commendable that he does not play it safe- he really goes for it for better or worse. As long as it is, I’m still looking forward to watching the two movies back to back and I’m curious to see all deleted scenes.

    Here’s a weird thing; I heard about the de-aging CGI beforehand and had forgotten about it and then I swear I didn’t notice it while watching the movie- I usually pick up on details and distractions like that! I don’t know what happened. Maybe because I took my glasses off… Anyway, I agree that IT:C2 offers a singular experience if you are open to it and there’s so much of it that feels like a breath of fresh air (and yes, it’s scary at times- no matter what anybody says).

  • 6 Luki8701No Gravatar // Sep 10, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    unkle lancifer
    I left you a reply, but it seems to have gotten lost somewhere after I submitted it.

    Anyway, I completely agree with everything you said. I love The Conjuring\Insidious movies, but if you are a horror fan and watch dozens movies a year, watching characters slowly babywalk their way down a dark corridor gets very tiring, no matter how well it is shot.

    Which brings me back to both IT movies. They have so much energy, they feel like Sam Raimi movies. Every scare\suspense\joke scene is different and offers something at least a little bit fresh or weird. Say what you want about whether they are effective or not, but both movies never repeat the same scare or scene twice. Also both movies contain exactly only one babywalking down a dark corridor scene each!

    And yes, you could see Muschietti was being held back in the first movie, the off kilter weirdness was present in only a small handful of scenes (Pennywise dancing, eating a severed hand and waving with it, TV show bits). Apparently after the success of the first movie he was given twice the budget and absolute freedom.

    Thinking about it, the offbeat humor and weirdness of IT chapter 2 is probably the main reason so many people dislike it. The first movie was restrained so outside of character based humor it played pretty much straight. People who wanted more of the same were probably dissapointed and people who expected something darker and grittier were put off by the jokes and weirdness.

    Chapter 2 is both grittier\darker AND funnier. What a strange movie. I love it.

  • 7 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Sep 10, 2019 at 3:22 pm

    Luki8701,
    I think you are exactly right! At the end of the day Muschietti has deeply weird sensibilities and it’s hard for a mainstream audience to take it all in especially considering how fast the tonal changes come at you. The kid under the bleachers and the hate crime opening are SUPER dark and then Eddie’s encounter in the pharmacy is played almost as pure comedy at the end. A great example of the blending of the two tones would be the Paul Bunyan attack which is both scary/alarming and crazy/comical and the egg roll monsters which are frightening and gross but also cartoonish and tragic to an almost nauseating effect. When I fist saw his movie MAMA I thought the effect of the monster at the end was over the top but looking back, I think that’s just how he likes it. You’re right to compare with it with Sam Raimi. I also think of Joe Dante’s segment in The Twilight Zone movie.
    We’ve sort of all been whispered to by horror movies for the last couple years and in comparison IT:C2 is yelling loudly and letting its freak flag fly. It’s an adjustment but I’m with you- I dig the weirdness of it and I love that there’s so much to take in.

  • 8 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Sep 10, 2019 at 5:56 pm

    I just realized that it probably sounded off that I used the word “tragic” to describe the fortune cookie scene but the struggling baby bird aspect really hit me like that (forget the crazy eyeball). I once came across a bunch of dead baby birds on the sidewalk and it was the saddest thing I’ve ever seen and recently I found a dead baby bird on our doorstep (bad omen) that I gave a proper burial to but am still haunted by. In any case – I think the fortune cookie scene in IT:C2 easily bests the 1990 miniseries version for disturbing freakiness.

  • 9 Luki8701No Gravatar // Sep 11, 2019 at 2:16 am

    I totally get what you are saying. A lot of the scenes blended the funny/scary or funny/disturbing tone. Mainstream audience or very young horror fans usually get confused/put off by it .

    I think the filmmakers also realized that, which is why they ended a lot of those scenes with a “yes, this is supposed to also be funny!” moments… Losers trashing the restaurant, that needle drop in the pharmacy basement, Eddie telling Bowers to get a hair cut etc.

    Oh man that Bowers stabbing Eddie into face scene! The visual is nightmarish, the shock of the attack is there and then Eddie’s reaction is pure tragic comedy gold.

  • 10 Jon LaviaNo Gravatar // Sep 11, 2019 at 9:34 am

    I couldn’t agree more Lance. I really, really enjoyed this movie. Yes, the second act dragged a bit, but we have more main characters to serve than in a normal movie, and that service is needed for development.

    The casting and the resulting performances were incredible. There were times when I was looking at Jay Ryan thinking “he could be Jeremy Ray Taylor’s blood relative, no problem” and the same was true for every single one of them. All of the adult leads were easy to empathize with.

    The opening scene was awful to watch, but that was the point; I like how Muschietti focused on the brutality of the act, as you are NOT supposed to like what is happening.

    I have seen many people say it wasn’t as scary as the first and I can agree with that in a sense. Each chapter presented a different type of fear, which is something that is made clear in the novel: kids and adults are scared of different things. I felt the adult fear in this movie resonating with me, especially as a parent. The parental neglect comes into focus in a different fashion in Chapter Two, because we are finally seeing adults being aware of, and trying to stop, IT. And we actually saw IT targeting a child in the presence of of an adult who was actively trying to stop IT! That sense of hopelessness and guilt is just as scary as a contorted clown twisting out of a fridge, just not in the same way.

    That underlying sense of guilt and convalescence also explains why Pennywise simply doesn’t just kill the Losers where and when he wants, after all: he loves “salting the meat”.

    Thank you for writing this review and for running this amazing site! With young kids, I don’t get to watch as many horror films as I used to, but I certainly enjoy and heed your recommendations and those of fellow readers. You’ve built a great community here.

  • 11 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Sep 11, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    Jon Lavia,
    Thank you! I’m so glad you are enjoying the site! i’m glad we are able to attract a positive crowd. I’m reading so many negative takes on IT:c2 online and it’s sad some viewers can’t appreciate how good they’ve got it. I’d say that most of the complaints make total sense and I agree with them but it doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of the movie. In a way the movie and book celebrate human flaws, awkwardness and plain weirdness so it kind of fits in the way that movie is not some perfect, streamlined flawless product.

    There’s really nothing in the second half of KING’s book to compare with the Georgie/Pennywise gutter opening so I don’t think there was much they could do to try to make Chapter 2 as scary as the first. And it seems that the director and writer were well aware of that in the way they kept joking about Bill not being able to write a fully satisfying ending. Still, there are so many memorable scenes and I think they were able to pull out some scares in a few places I wasn’t prepared for. Especially as you point out- Bill trying to stop Pennywise from harming another child (in the funhouse). That really worked for me and was a great illustration of his ongoing guilt about his brother too. I really like James McAvoy, think he’s incredible in SPLIT and I’m so glad he was cast. And thanks for pointing out the “salting the meat” aspect too! I think Pennywise does prefer to psychologically torture a person and get as much fear out of them as possible before he strikes for sure.

    I think I said it before but the scene with the little girl under the bleachers was probably the closest they get to duplicating the Georgie gutter scene. I’m old enough to remember when a kid dying in a horror movie was almost taboo so it’s weird that people these days shrug it off as not scary enough. It was a great touch to have the little girl be the same one that Adrian gave his prize to in the opening too, showing how the evil was back and would spread like a disease through the town.

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