Hello fellow horror geeks! Two reviews for the price (FREE!) of one! Bob and Tony present our diverging reviews of the highly-anticipated killer-demon-clown-from-outer-space-and-dimensions-flick (there are so many of those I’m not sure if you know we’re talking IT Chapter 2). Tony’s written review starts us off, and Bob’s video review at the bottom!
The entire City of Geek crew converged to see IT, Chapter 2 the night before its formal September 6 opening. And there was some warm-and-fuzzy sentiment in tow: The original IT marked the first time the four of us hit a theater together to see a movie as a group.
So my enthusiasm ran high. I actually liked Andy Muschetti’s first IT movie. A lot. Amidst some admittedly low expectations, it turned out to be an absorbing and creepy little horror fable that genuinely entertained me.
When the final credits rolled on IT, Chapter 2, I was speechless. And not in a good way.
The inverse of my reaction to the first IT turned out to be the case here. Muschetti and team proved they had the goods in Part 1, so I was expecting something of quality, even if the law of Diminishing Sequel Creative Returns applied. Aaaand…well…
This final chapter focuses on the Losers Club’s members reuniting some 27 years later. After getting driven back into oblivion by the adolescent Losers, the demonic Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) has returned, and these six now-grown-up former friends wrestle with their own neuroses, personal demons, and tragedies in an attempt to reunite and defeat him once more.
My reaction to IT, Chapter 2 makes me feel like some cine-dork equivalent of They Live‘s John Nada. The majority of fans and critics are fairly enthusiastic, but the bullshit-detection sunglasses I’ve accidentally donned reveal otherwise.
Almost none of what part 1 did well gets applied here. The characterizations that felt so natural in the childhood Losers feel stilted and forced in grown-up era IT (not old-pals-long-time-no-see stilted; shoddy-characterization stilted).
All of the character beats feel alternately absurdly heavy-handed and tissue-thin. Did ya know that Jessica Chastain is drawn to an abusive relationship as an adult? And that someone else is a closeted gay? No? Here, we’ll show you! Oh, you figured it out on your own? Screw that, we’ll show you anyway!
Worse yet, the scares hit an aggravatingly predictable, rote jump-scare rhythm. It goes like this: Character enters location; something unthreatening turns threatening/something threatening pops up; jump scare. Lather, rinse, repeat. The film’s monotonously high-velocity final reel, meantime, feels less like the tension being ratcheted up, and more like the end result of a sugar-fueled kid with too much money, showing off his flashy but utterly uninteresting toys. The toys are very damned loud. And very damned grating.
CGI also gets leaned on even harder here than in chapter 1. I’ll go to the mat for a lot of the first one’s enthralling, not-overused dark-fairytale imagery, but Numero Dos fairly chokes on the heavily-digitized visuals.
The cast is good, for the table-scraps of characterization they’re tossed. But when Bill Hader’s adult Richie Tozier gets all emotional (mild spoiler) about the passing of one of the other characters, his very visceral emoting is over a character who hasn’t been developed enough for us to care about, and Hader’s meltdown is pushed into the realm of self-parody as a result.
A lot of people are giving this movie way more of a pass than I am. Near as I can tell, it’s due to a few different factors. Like most disappointing filmic followups, there’s some coasting on the fumes of goodwill generated by the first one. The high-powered (if largely underused) cast does what they can. And to its credit, it’s likely less snooze-inducing than Part 2 of the 1990 miniseries (I haven’t seen it in its entirety, so I’m assuming). There’s also the strong desire for most genre fans to want to support any horror movie lucky enough to bum-rush the impassible gates of the American Multiplex. That’s a mission that–in the long term, at least–makes IT, Chapter 2 almost worth sitting through again. Almost.
But me, I couldn’t wait for the whole loud, grating, undercooked, and overlong mess to just be done…at least 30 minutes before it actually lumbered to its end.
Sorry. Well no, not really.