Some were initially wary of the 2017 version of “It”—mostly due to the unfortunate falling out between the studio executives and the original director, Cary Joji Fukanaga, who envisioned a Lovecraftian horror take on Stephen King’s novel. The decision to reject a unique, inventive film in favor of a more vanilla adaptation was quite disappointing and this distaste leaked into some initial perceptions of the 2017 movie. But most have accepted it for what it is: a fun, generic crowd-pleaser. However, the conclusion of the story, “Chapter Two” did not even live up to temperate hype.
The film’s strengths partially lie with Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise—much like Tim Curry being the best part of the 1990 TV version. However, he’s not in this one much, especially when weighed against its three hour run-time, which the film does not warrant nor even justify with its content. The time that could’ve been spent developing these characters as adults beyond basic traits and allowing the cast some room to breathe is instead spent on repetitive sequences of a lone character being spooked by some CGI monster.
A key pitfall which lies at the core of King’s novel and both adaptations is that the writers are far less interested in the adult half of the story. While the novel wastes time building increasingly convoluted lore, the film wastes it on flashbacks into the character’s childhoods. Seemingly, any unused ideas from the first film were shoehorned in to pad the run-time.
Speaking of lore, the film brushes over most of it very quickly. This risks leaving anyone unfamiliar with the source material misunderstanding the “rules” of the film, which are integral for a horror film to establish. If there’s no rhyme or reason to the supernatural events on-screen, there’s no way to ground the audience in some sense of reality and disrupts their emotional investment.
The cast is comprised of very talented performers, yet their chemistry is a bit awkward compared to the cast of the first film—even though they try their best with the often choppy script. The script is also quite faithful to King’s novel—to its detriment. Certain sequences and characters—including a character who appeared to have died in the first film’s climax—are included rather haphazardly just because they were in both halves of the book.
It’s not that this film is just a big trash-fire, as there are some positive notes. The opening sequence is viscerally upsetting and feels much more realistic and disturbing than the rest of the film—being almost out of place and featuring a subtle, yet eerie reintroduction to the titular villain. There’s also a suspenseful sequence at a baseball game, which ends with one of the few scares that doesn’t feel cheap and a revelation about one character’s sexuality is handled very tastefully.
If you’re looking for a film that functions like a carnival ride—cheap and corny, but kind of fun—go ahead and check it out. If you want the type of horror film that will get under your skin and stay there, you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that “It: Chapter Two” doesn’t even come close.
Matt Cotter can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.