To anyone that knows me, it would be very surprising to hear that I was planning on watching a horror film, let alone heading to the cinema on the very day of IT Chapter Two’s release. It was one thing to watch the first film from the comfort of my own sofa in broad daylight, but very much another to head to a late showing of the sequel in cinema! Yet there I was.
The first of the films, which are based on the novels of Stephen King, was a massive success; It became the highest grossing horror film of all time, beating the likes of The Sixth Sense (1999) and The Exorcist (1973). It almost seemed to become a world-wide phenomenon, with people even dressing up as Pennywise to scare other unsuspecting cinema goers: the sequel had a lot to live up to.
Set 27 years after the first film, the Loser’s Club has disbanded with Beverley, Bill, Richie, Mike, Ben and Eddie all having gone their separate ways in adulthood. However, 27 years ago they made a pact, a pact to return to Derry if clown Pennywise was ever to begin tormenting the children of their town again. When Mike, the only member of the original group to have remained in their hometown, begins noticing strange disappearances, he fears history is repeating itself and calls the gang back together again.
The casting of a new set of actors proved a major triumph of the sequel, with stand-out performances from Jessica Chastain as Beverly, James McAvoy as Bill and Bill Hader in the role of Richie. They each portray their respective characters perfectly, as a continuation of their childhood selves though inflected with the realistic changes of time gone by. The chemistry between the actors is also a selling point of this film. There are instances of high emotional impact throughout as you feel the characters fear and hopelessness; you can’t help but root for this team of misfits to become the steadfast friends they once were. This is not just a simple tension-building horror film but one that also has heartfelt moments of comedy and friendship, and is therefore, an enjoyable film for those – like me – who may not be the biggest fans of the horror genre.
That being said, the fright elements of this film follow the same pattern as the first, with theatrical and comedic horror favoured over the more nerve-wracking forms. The sequel is perhaps not as scary as It, but IT Chapter Two does have moments where I found myself jumping in my seat, fearfully anticipating what was to come. However, given that I am a bit of coward when it comes to these kinds of films, those expecting an adrenalin-filled scare-fest might be disappointed.
Similarly, another popular critique of this film is its long running time of nearly three hours. I would agree that this seems unnecessary, with a significant proportion of this time taken up by flashbacks, reminding the audience of the events that took place in the first film which proves to be slightly tedious. Perhaps this would be less of an issue had you not watched the first film a just few days beforehand (as I had), but given the overall length of the film, I felt portions of this could have been easily reduced.
Overall, IT Chapter Two is an enjoyable film with emotion, comedy and a few jump scares: a satisfying conclusion to the series. However, if you are looking for the scariest horror film you’ll ever see, look elsewhere; this film will by no means give you nightmares.
– Amie Greenhalgh