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It's back for another chapter

It: Chapter 2 (15)
Running time 2hr 49min
Rating ****

THE second part to the cinematic adaptation of Stephen King’s seminal horror novel continues on with the dark story about the shape-shifting, child-murdering monster most commonly known as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. The story picks up 27 years after the original and follows the grown-up members of The Losers Club as they reunite and return to Derry to once again fight the demonic entity plaguing their rural town.

It: Chapter 2 feels more like the latter part of a long movie than a sequel. The film begins with a disturbing small-town crime that ends with the bloody re-emergence of Pennywise. Mike Hanlon, the only Loser to have remained in Derry, contacts his former friends who all have forgotten about that one fateful summer in 1989.

Two things are made quite apparent when the film re-introduces all the grown-up protagonists; the sequel’s heavier emphasis on comedy and the plot’s adherence to a more obvious formula. Characters such as Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransone) and Richie Tozier (Bill Hader, who puts in a surprisingly deft and resonant dramatic performance despite his comedic roots) inject some good laughs into the serious story. However, this emphasis on comedy takes away from the horror; Chapter 2 is undoubtedly less scary than Chapter 1.

Another negative of Chapter 2 is the conventional nature of the film’s plot. The film individually re-introduces all the Losers giving us a glimpse at their grown-up lives (many of whom live in similar circumstances to their respective childhoods) as Mike gets in contact with them.

They reunite, Mike explains the plan to defeat Pennywise and all the Losers split off, exploring Derry on their own, enduring a challenging encounter with the creature and then collecting a token from their past. This all culminates in a final battle between the Losers and Pennywise which plays out fairly predictably. Chapter 2 does share many of the same positive aspects as the first film. The disturbing and spooky tone of the original is present and the refreshing and unique cinematography, as well as some surprising visual effects lend itself well to the film’s blend of gory, supernatural horror and playful, genre-aware comedy.

The comedy does take away from the film though. It: Chapter 2 has the audience laughing far more than it has it gasping. The mystery and threat of Pennywise in the first film just isn’t as strong in the sequel. This is probably due to the aged characters. Being placed in children’s shoes in a fight against an evil, cannibalistic clown certainly has you more on the edge of your seat.

Despite these minor pitfalls, Chapter 2 is still a suitable climax to the It story. The acting of the Losers both young and old is superb. The casting of the grown-up characters is the film’s true triumph, with all the actors looking and acting just like their younger selves. Bill Skarsgård again gives a powerhouse performance as Pennywise. The animalistic and childish approach to the character is the stuff of nightmares.

Although It: Chapter 2 doesn’t quite live up to the quality of the original, the film is still a well-made, enjoyable modern horror film that offers more in plot, acting and atmosphere than many of its contemporaries. Both films are successful in adapting King’s beloved novel to the big screen without pandering to the lacklustre, jump-scare orientated pantheon of modern horror films.

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