Illustration by Andrea Nebhut
It has to be said that this article will be filled with spoilers for “IT Chapter 2.” I’ll begin with a big one: It is in no way as good as the first one.
The film begins with a gay couple at a fair in what appears to be modern times. They are harassed by a group of men for displaying affection in public and are later brutally assaulted by the same group.
The physical barrage ends when the group of men throws one of the gay men over a bridge into the river. As his partner runs down to save him, the man in the river is pulled to shore by everyone’s favorite serial killer clown, Pennywise. Long story short, Pennywise kills the gay man as his partner watches on.
Now, if you thought that scene of two gay men being brutally attacked and one being killed would have any importance to the film, would ever be addressed again or would be critiqued, you’d be wrong.
The beginning is the first of many instances in the film where it appears like the director has a vision of possibly discussing complex issues of repression, violence and societal malaise, but instead chooses to just throw everything into a blender and hope it comes out resembling the film’s predecessor.
The whole film is built on the premise that the last film ended with: Pennywise isn’t dead, and after the allotted time that it takes for him to … recover, he begins his killing ways again.
This brings The Losers, the kids who battled him last time, all back together. Now, however, they are all grown up, and the child actors that wooed audiences last time are replaced by what appears to be an all-star cast.
But in a delightful turn, each adult (besides Bill Hader) is outacted by their child counterpart. James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain in particular put in muted and dull shifts as the teen couple I loved in the last movie.
That sentiment, the comparison of this film and its predecessor, is maybe why “IT Chapter 2” sucked for me.
At times, the movie seemed to continue what “IT” did, creating horrific and artistic scenes of terror while blending in Steven King’s trademark obsession of capturing the strange bliss of growing up. Yet, it was all bogged down in poor worldbuilding, lackluster acting and a runtime of over two and a half hours.
The ending of the film felt like it had three possible ways to go, the good one, the bad one and the “holy shit, this was stupid” one. It went for the last option.
The gang tracks Pennywise to his new lair — the one they went to last movie, but this time, it’s deeper in the earth.
There, they preform a ritual that one of the characters learned and stole from Native Americans. It doesn’t work, and Pennywise turns into a crab-spider-thing, and the whole thing goes overboard.
I pick this scene because it perfectly demonstrates how scatterbrained this movie was.
The final scene was packed with misplaced humor, bad editing and a script that I am convinced was stolen from a Stephen King fan-fiction site. The pace was off, the CGI lagged at times, and the ending to the whole fight had no emotional payoff like the last movie did.
One could make the excuse that it would be difficult for anyone to follow up a hit like “IT.”
The film seemed to hit all the right marks, came at the perfect time in our popular culture and was the ideal blend of horror, comedy and drama.
But that is just an excuse for poor filmmaking. This movie had all the money, time, actors and hype and it was easily one of the most disappointing movies I’ve seen this year. And I saw “Pokémon Detective Pikachu.”
I’m not even addressing the film’s problematic messaging or how they threw in a Steven King cameo and made it somehow bad. Because at the end of the day, it was just a bad movie.
Those happen a lot and this one isn’t the worst one. But what’s hard to accept is that it could have been amazing, maybe incredible, but fell flat.
I will say one good thing came out of this movie: I got to watch Bill Hader curse for two hours. I would still pay $13 to watch that.