It: Chapter Two (2019)
It: Chapter Two is the follow up to the 2017 film It, directed by Andy Muschietti. It stars Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone and Andy Bean as the adult “Looser’s Club”, with Bill Skarsgård reprising his role as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Also returning for the many flashback scenes is the young cast from the first movie.
Filling the huge shoes of the first film chapter of the story couldn’t have been easy. The first film is my all time favorite horror movie, so I had high hopes for this one, as it is basically a continuation of the story. So was it good? Yes, it was excellent.
Now, it should be said that the novel by Stephen King (who also cameos in the film) clocks in on over 1100 pages. It is a sprawling story about childhood trauma, fear and the coming of age. Adapting it for the screen must have been very hard, but I think Muschietti and his team did a great job. The adult cast was perfect as counterparts to the younger cast from the first movie, and even though changes were made from the book (as it always should be, with adaptations), the adaptation is very much true to the story.
That being said, the second chapter of the story would never work without the first, like the first wouldn’t work without the second, and I pity viewers watching this without seeing the first one. Also, having read the book, I might have seen details and understood scenes and parts of the story that I’m sure went over the heads of those who hadn’t read it. The origins of Pennywise, for example, explained only in flashes in the film, is explained alot more in the novel. And did you notice how often turtles appear or are mentioned in both film? That’s no accident.
It is, on the surface, a simple story. The demonic clown, Pennywise, comes out of hibernation every 27 years to feed on the flesh, and the fear of humans, especially children. In the second chapter, the Looser’s Club has come back to Derry 27 years after their first encounter with Pennywise, in the hopes of finally killing it.
What follows is basically a battle of wills against the cosmic, alien horror. The story delivers layers upon layers of psychological horror and childhood fear. Some of the scenes made me laugh hard, others brought tears to my eyes. The film is, if you let it, an emotional rollercoaster of fear, horror, heartbreak and humor. One really cares for these characters, and that’s something I seldom say about horror movies.
As with the novel, this part of the story relies heavily on flashbacks, time jumps and individual experiences with the fear Pennywise projects onto the Loosers. They know they have to face It, and much of this story revolves around getting prepared, and enacting an old ritual.
I can see how the structure of this film, with the flashbacks and several individual story arcs, can be a bit jarring to those who haven’t read the novel, and one could argue that no film adaptation should rely on a novel to make sense. But having read it, I didn’t mind, and I was thrilled seeing how much of the novel that was adapted into the film. It was a worthy sequel to the fantastic first chapter.
I think the main reason I personally like the Stephen King’s story so much, both book and the newer film adaptation (although Tim Curry was also excellent as Pennywise in the early 90s) hasn’t so much to do with it being scary. I’ve seen alot scarier movies than these. It has more to do with the feeling of time passing, the coming of age and looking back. The powerful feeling of nostalgia really works here, without being “forced” (like it felt in Stranger Things, for example). It is much like that fantastic song by Pink Floyd called “High Hopes”, only with blood, mayhem and cosmic, clown-shaped horrors!