Director: Andy Muschietti
Cast: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Bill Skarsgard, Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis
The rule of thumb for sequels to a highly successful film is that the second one will be bigger, louder and more ‘in your face’ than the first film and trust me, It Chapter Two definitely does this. This sequel to Andy Muschietti’s adaptation of Stephen Kings IT is all that and then some. It certainly is longer! Strap yourself tight because this carnival of horrors is 11 minutes shy of being a three hour movie! A little too much for some viewers, I know. I saw a couple of people leaving the theater even before the film was totally over. But for those of you who want their movies to go on forever, because you just LOVE a good movie, well, you’re in for a treat.
It Chapter Two picks up 27 years after the first one, with ‘The Losers’ all grown up, each living their own separate lives. One is a writer, one is an entrepreneur, one is a comedian and so forth and they’ve all forgotten the horrifying events they lived through together when they were kids. And that’s the way they want to keep the past, forgotten. But when the evil clown known as ‘Pennywise’ begins to kill again, it’s up to ‘The Losers’ to reunite and take on the monster, one final time. Will they have the guts to face their fears and slay the beast?
I thought I’d get a bit bored with this movie, because I’d seen the original one a million times, but as it turns out this remake has so many new elements to it, I was actually thoroughly entertained. The good part about this is that you can watch both versions of ‘It’ and you’ll have original moments occur in each. Basically, every major scare sequence has been altered, replaced or enhanced in one way or another by new monsters and nightmares, which is great. In my opinion, that’s what makes a good remake. A film that retains the essence of the original, while still giving us enough new material so that we won’t get bored. So don’t expect that creepy shower sequence you love so much from the original, it’s been replaced with some new creepiness. Yet not all is changed, the film successfully retained that feeling of true friendship and love that is such an essential part of IT and of many of Stephen King’s novels. King loves to tell stories that have that ‘gee whiz aint it fun to be a kid’ vibe to them. The clubhouse, the riding the bikes through the woods, the blood pact and the idea that our childhood friends will remain our friends forever and ever. It Chapter Two felt a lot like King’s Stand by Me…if you mashed it up with A Nightmare on Elm Street. Doesn’t that sound enticing?
Andy Muschietti makes the film very much his own by adding those creepy cartoony creatures he infused into his horror film, Mama (2013). Remember that one? The one about the creepy entity who decides to raise a couple of orphaned girls? Creepy visuals indeed, but on IT he takes those creepy visuals up to a thousand. Loved the creatures on this one! Don’t expect anything “realistic”, after all, this film is filled with dark fantastic elements like aliens, evil clowns and giant soul sucking spiders. So, if you like your creepy, EC comics style creatures and monsters, you should have tons of fun with this one. A note about the effects, I personally really dug the visual effects aspect of the whole thing, while some people seem to be bothered by the cartoony nature of some of the effects, I personally thought they were effective when taking in consideration the tone of the film.
Another thing I loved about It Chapter Two was the huge homage it is to the 80’s. I know going back to the 80’s has always been cool (tell me about it I LIVED through them) and some might feel that doing this on any film is old hat, but honestly, I loved the homages to the decadent era. A Thundercats t-shirt, a poster for The Lost Boys, a Street Fighter Arcade machine and A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989) on a cinema marquee were some of the homages I caught. But trust me, there are many more little homages spread through-out the entire film, one amazing one goes to John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982), but I won’t tell you how that one unfolds. So be on the lookout for those!
The film does have a lot of levity to it, this has bothered some hardcore horror fans. But we have to remember that horror and comedy have always gone hand in hand. Remember An American Werewolf in London (1981)? How about Ghostbusters (1984)? Fright Night (1985)? Creepshow (1982)? All scary/fun movies. Remember, with the exception of hardcore horror fans who love true blue hardcore horror, the general population probably can’t take too much of the gory red stuff. Plus, this is a big budget horror film, producers want to make their money back and one way of doing this is by having the general population have a little fun with their scares. I mean, it’s not in every movie that three children get slaughtered in graphic ways. Producers know this, so they alleviate the tension with a little levity. Case in point, Bill Hader as Richie. Though if we get right down to it, the character of Richie was always the funny one in the novel as well as the original film. So, we can’t really complain that Richie is always saying jokes, that’s just the way the character was written. On top of all that, Hader is hilarious on It: Chapter Two, a very welcome addition to the film if you ask me. Hader, as far as I can tell, is a comedic star in the making. I got a feeling Hader is gonna be way bigger in the near future.
Word of advice, go to the bathroom before the movie starts and don’t order the large soft drink or else you’ll be getting up half way through the movie and miss something. I say Muschietti will be making lots of movies in the near future, It Chapter Two has already made close to 100 million domestically, so it is a surefire hit. I’m just hoping that the Thundercats t-shirt in the film means that Muschietti is actually considering bringing the Thundercats to the big screen. Wouldn’t that be something? A Thundercats film is a surefire hit waiting to happen. I just can’t believe some producer hasn’t picked this one up yet! Everybody and their mother is waiting for that movie to get made. Well, at least those of us who grew up during the 80’s! So anyhow, bottom line with IT Chapter Two is that it’s a long film, sure, but a scary, creepy ride worth taking.