It Chapter Two was one of my most anticipated movies this year after I fell in love with the Losers Club in the first Stephen King adaption by director Andy Muschietti in 2017. 27 years later, after all the horror and unbreakable oaths seem forgotten, It has come back.
What once was a gang of tortured kids, has now turned into an ensemble of troubled adults. The cast of this sequel has been rightfully praised from the beginning and all the adult-actors easily merge with their character’s younger versions. From the way they walk and talk to certain mannerisms – the transition is satisfyingly smooth. An important factor considering the many flashbacks that pull together all the strings between past and present. These windows into the past are incorporated in such a way that never lets the strong feeling of solidarity of the group cease. A feeling that sucks you in and makes you want to cling on.
When the club gathers back in Derry, their memories are hazy and they each have to revisit their own trauma to remember and resist Pennywise once again. James McAvoy as Bill Denbrough keeps up with – but doesn’t triumph over – Jaeden Martell’s performance of the older brother who blames himself for his younger brother’s death (Georgie played by Jackson Robert Scott). Jessica Chastain portrays a slightly more damaged, more scared version of Bev who was unshakable on the surface as a kid (Sophia Lillis). Her trauma has finally broken through, manifesting in a dreadful cycle of violence and terror. The reveal of each member’s achievements and failings balances tragedy and humor on a fine line. Be it a wrecked comedian, uninspired writer, prisoner of abuse or mommy issues.
Such a balance is broken through the scattered horror sequences that almost tip the scale to satire entirely. In the first movie, whenever any of the kids encountered Pennywise’s psycho-torture, it was either something personal or built up in a slow, painful curve, enforced by the daily dread they experienced. Now, the attacking creatures resemble Silent Hill abominations and become plainly laughable. The only redeeming fact is that the characters are self-aware of how increasingly ridiculous the conjured up visions are getting and frequently comment on it. Quite a welcome addition of humor that works 97% of the time. However, the reason why it can’t reach the level of, say, a Tucker & Dale is the fact that Pennywise is still trying really hard to be scary but none of his scenes are intimidating. Bill Skarsgard made my skin crawl in the first movie and he has pretty much become ineffective in this one*.
Nonetheless, what remains positive is the impeccable bond between the Losers Club that actually made me think of my own friends and how life sometimes gets in the way. Something that wouldn’t trouble you as a kid because you feel inseparable, possibly even invincible as a group. The Club faced and overcame incredible sufferings because they stuck together, because they believed. Pennywise the clown is basically a huge, salivating, child-eating metaphor for bullies, bigotry and, of course, fear. Things that apparently love to fester in the town of Derry. Thankfully, Bev & family packed some germ-killing determination and bravery.
Another feature I highly appreciated in the first movie and which thankfully continues to be a thing: the depiction of masculinity and specifically the friendship between men. Telling each other how you feel, hugging, and crying are a simple, nonchalant fact for the Losers Club. A natural exchange among friends. Some people should take note!
It Chapter Two succeeds in telling the story of what happens when you develop into a certain version of yourself that might have been different in your dreams when you were young. Its focus is one’s personal drive to have more memories you want to remember than you want to forget and, if need be, push yourself to make new ones. Sometimes (not the majority of times) that entails fighting a child-despising clown. For the friendship and mostly striking humor alone, I would watch it again. Plus, there is a great cameo that you wouldn’t want to miss out on. Oh, and Pennywise is there too.
*One kid Pennywise has his eye on is called Victoria… hello, it me!