What “IT Chapter Two” Gets Wrong

Alissa Humphrey
Staff Writer

PC: Alissa Humphrey

Trust me, less is more. So much more. Within its three-hour timeframe, ‘IT Chapter Two’ attempts to be overly complex and frightening to remain loyal to the 1986 Stephen King novel and out do its predecessor. This sequel is not so gracious, and the film ends up becoming this overstuffed and inconsistent mess that cannot keep up with itself. The potential for ‘IT Chapter Two’ to be great and possibly exceed expectations built from the first was ultimately overshadowed by the imbalance of the characters’ emotions and throws you off guard. Director Andy Muschietti and screenwriter, Gary Dauberman did their best to adapt King’s convoluted text, but just like the novel, their ending falls flat and unsatisfying. 

The sequel reunites and follows the Losers, Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy), Beverly Marsh (Jessica Chastain), Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa), Richie Tozier (Bill Hader), Ben Hanscom (Jay Ryan), Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransone), and Stanley Uris (Andy Bean). 27 years later, they are brought back together by Mike who suspects that Pennywise the Dancing Clown is back to feast upon and terrorize the town of Derry once again. The Losers must band together to finally defeat the demonic entity and his evil doings forever. 

If you did not watch the 2017 film beforehand, that is not a problem. About 65 percent of the film consists of flashbacks to catch you up. For me, this rings as a huge problem for the progression of the narrative. Everything great about the first film is used as a layout for ‘IT Chapter Two’, following the exact same patterns but it is a predictable and poor execution. Relying on flashbacks does not push the plot along but rather weakens it. 

Now the Losers are 27 years older and have to readjust to enter their buried childhood trauma again. When the Losers interact together it works great at times and you are able to feel the cast have such amazing chemistry. Other times in the interactions their pain is masked with humor that is interjected at the wrong times and not enough time is given for the audience to react. It’s hard to differentiate what you should be feeling. Is it happiness that they’ve reunited? Absolute fear for their lives? Or laughing because Richie or one of the other Losers said something off-kilter? Again, this completely skews the narrative. Another factor that did not sit well with me were the lacking factors. By the first few ‘jump scares’, I became unnerved and desensitized to them. The set-up is very predictable. 

The terrorizing factor of “IT Chapter Two” is no longer present and Pennywise seems to lose his edge with the extravagant use of CGI monsters, which they obviously used their larger budget for. What makes a jump scare effective and memorable? The scare is most efficient when you are least aware of how and when it will happen. Instead, you are continuously pulled in and spoon fed the scare with the same formula and it is exhausting. Muschietti’s theory to conjure up a scare is redundant. Here’s the breakdown: Isolate the characters, expose their deepest fears, regress them to a childlike state of mind, and unleash the demon that frightens them the most. There were too many to get through and I wish more time was spent developing better scares. 

Throughout the film, the only thing that I became attached to was Richie and Bill Hader’s portrayal of him. Hader is a pure delight and deserves all the praise he is getting for this role, and I wanted more from him. Not just because I enjoy him as an actor and the work he has done, but Richie’s characterization and friendship with Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransone) and Stanley Uris (Andy Bean) hold up the narrative and keeps the story from falling in on itself. Sadly, it was to the point where to other adult Losers don’t leave much of a mark on me. Even though all the interpretations of the adults Losers are amazing, and they all have their moments of sincerity, Hader and Ransone give their characters wholesome love and its perfection! Every moment they shared the screen was bliss. It makes the film worthwhile.  

What the sequel was missing is simplicity, which is something the miniseries from 1990 did better due to its circumstances on broadcast network. The adaptation may not the best and certainly did not age well, but it worked for that time and Tim Curry’s performance of Pennywise still haunts me. Together the entire two-part miniseries is the total length of ‘IT Chapter Two’. Muschietti’s two films doles out to be five hours and it lags for trying to do so much. At least they did not attempt to breakdown King’s macroverse and the part that shall never be spoken, ever. All I wanted was Mataurin, the ancient and all-knowing turtle who is practically God. I guess we can’t always get what we want. What is best about “IT Chapter Two” has been raved about since the announcement of its development and had me devoted to the project was the casting of the adult counterparts. Also, seeing how the film would compare to the miniseries and reiterating King’s broad novel. Despite its flaws, “IT Chapter Two” does have its high points and opulent cast portraying the endearing characters, but the film is mediocre in its execution and resorts to be an unforgettable sequel.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

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