IT Chapter 2: a decent horror but a better comedy
The sequel to 2017’s adaptation of Stephen King’s bestseller entertains a large cast of colourful characters, whose hilarious chemistry helps make up for the unfortunately mixed horror elements. Adapted by screenwriter Guy Dauberman and director Andy Muschietti, It Chapter Two explores the second half of King’s novel, where the Losers’ Club, now as adults, return to their hometown Derry to finish off the devilish entity It (Bill Skarsgård) once and for all.
The young Losers – who return in flashbacks – are recast successfully and play well off of each other, particularly Bill Hader and James Ransone who star as Richie and Eddie respectively. To the films credit, there is focus on character development and giving satisfying conclusions to the Losers’ Club’s separate story arcs. All of the characters are still haunted by the ghosts of their past; Beverly, traumatised by her abusive father, is stuck in another cycle of abuse by her husband while Bill continues to feel guilt over his brother Georgie’s horrific death. It acts as a metaphor for all the trauma the Losers’ Club experienced as children and confronting him serves as a way to show them finally dealing with their baggage.
Mike (now played by Isaiah Mustafa) brings the Losers back to Derry, which is when the horror really begins, including It breaking up a reunion dinner with creepy fortune cookies and a shocking message that shakes the group to their core. There are a few more solid scares in this instalment, such as the sequence featured in the trailer in which Beverly (Jessica Chastain) returns to her childhood home where a ‘kind’, elderly woman lives and a tense fun house scene with Bill (James McAvoy) that was not originally in the novel. However, these scenes are spread out across a nearly 3 hour movie, and while the comedy is pretty great and helps balance out the darker elements of the story, it also undercuts a lot of tense and scary sequences, giving them less impact for the audience and the characters.
The younger Losers’ Club take It much more seriously, but just because 27 years later they are now adults does not mean that the situations they are forced into are not terrifying. Consequently their reactions seriously affect its presence in the film in a negative way; Pennywise in particular does not feel as scary this time, and that is a huge issue, especially for the climax of the story.
It: Chapter Two does not find a way to mix the horror and comedy as well as the first instalment did, but the film has heart and relies on its amazing cast to give the story more impact. The most successful accomplishment of the film is that through two lengthy films, the adaptation commits to the themes of the novel; a story of friendship and how you can create your own family from age-old bonds.
It Chapter Two is showing at the Gulbenkian on October 8 (£3 per ticket)