“You’ll float too!” are now synonymous with the white-faced, red-lipped, ginger-haired entity known as Pennywise as he slays his victims one by one in even more gruesome fashion than the last. The IT of Stephen King‘s classic scary novel was a force to be reckoned with and, as the body count grew on-screen, off-screen 2017’s IT broke numerous box-office records on its way to becoming a blockbuster. But as the credits began, the IT became “Chapter One” of King’s terrifying two-parter and so, after much success, comes the Chapter Two – not a sequel, technically – and Pennywise isn’t happy…
27 years have passed since the events of the first installment set in 1988: after defeating and temporarily ridding their small town of Derry from his grasp, our favourite Losers Club begin to go their separate ways as they head towards adulthood. Scattered across the world in different corners (the further away from Derry they are, the less they remember), a new incident seemingly involving their favourite clown sees them reunited again with Mike (Isaiah Mustafa) still living in Derry desperate to unlock the secrets to destroying him once and for all.
With expectation comes pressure but director Muschetti is showing no signs of strain or tension, indeed basking in the scalding hot glow before running head first into it
without even flinching. IT: Chapter Two, as you may have guessed, is a fully-fledged, balls-to-wall, smorgasbord of a horror blockbuster that follows the Spinal Tap regimen of “going to 11” with no stone unturned, the rewards plentiful. Screams are louder, scares are fiercer, set-pieces bolder, all heading at 100 mph into it’s finale that’s as impressive and barmy as anything seen during the summer blockbuster season, this year or any other.
And yet, there’s issues: at almost three hours, it is a heck of a slog and while much of it is brilliant to watch it does take a while to find its feet. There’s a strange rhythm to the opening act – not to mention some terrible dialogue which extends through the film – that while purposely episodic and montage-like, feels scattered and uninvolving. Given this is our reintroduction to the adult versions of the characters, it’s all a bit disappointing. We don’t really care about their lives in-between and spend most of this time just wanting them back in Derry, despite knowing what foul displeasures surely awaits.
There are some flashes of real human emotion and involving arcs along the way, not least from Bill Hader‘s Richie, who is the film’s standout. Hiding his biggest fears behind his sharp humour and snarky nature, Richie has always been able to keep things at arms length but his story here is as emotionally resonant and moving as anything within the extensive runtime. As adult Bev, Chastain is solid and fits the role like a glove, whilst Mustafa and Jay Ryan are impressive, with Skargsard’s Pennywise a much harsher, more brutal incarnation this time out. It’s James McAvoy, somewhat surprisingly, who feels a little miscast here. He does a perfectly decent job as adult Bill still reeling from Georgie’s murder, but there’s something a little off kilter.
There’s so much to enjoy and admire about IT: Chapter Two, which revels in its position as being bigger and scarier and goes full throttle to deliver on its promise with its final hour a staggering achievement. However, it takes a few stumbles in getting there and with more prudent editing, this could have been one of the best horrors we have ever seen. As it is, it’s the second best IT we have.
Scott J.Davis |
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Horror | USA, 2019 | 15 | 6th September 2019 (UK) | Warner Bros Pictures | Dir.Andy Muschietti | James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Skarsgard, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, James Ransone, Andy Bean