IT : A Movie Review

IT Chapter Two doesn’t clown around.

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IT : A Movie Review

ILLUSTRATION BY CHLOIE CULL

ILLUSTRATION BY CHLOIE CULL

ILLUSTRATION BY CHLOIE CULL

Sandi Westrand, Senior Staff Writer

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Based on the tome penned by Stephen King in 1986, the story focuses on a New England town that has been plagued by an alien life form for centuries. The creature periodically awakens from a 27-year slumber to incite mayhem and inject fear into the townsfolk. With a predilection for younger victims, It discerns and exploits their utmost fears.

When sated from feasting, It returns to its subterranean lair to lie dormant for another cycle. The brutal predator is an adept shape-shifter, who appears most often in the guise of Pennywise the Dancing Clown.

In the first film, the pre-adolescent members of the self-named Losers club temporarily subdued the evil It. After, they made a blood oath to reunite when Pennywise resurfaced, the members disbanded to pursue their own lives.

ILLUSTRATION BY GRIFFIN QUINN O’LEARY

Fast forward to 2019 and Pennywise has returned to resume his reign of terror. A boisterous carnival scene swiftly turns violent, when a gay couple is accosted and beaten by a trio of homophobic thugs. One victim is thrown into the river and is swept along to be savagely killed by Pennywise lurking in the sewer.

This time around, the frilly freak returns with a vengeance, and viewers are thrust into a kaleidoscope of horrifying graphics for the next three hours.

Phone calls to the other adult members of the Losers club are made by Mike Hanlon (Isiah Mustafa) who remained in Derry to track appearances of the monster. The original arrival of It was observed by an indigenous tribe and depicted on an artifact Hanlon has acquired. He urges the others to return to Derry immediately, to confront the deadly menace and fulfill the oath made in the fateful summer of ‘92.

Five of the group reluctantly return to Derry to revive the individual and collective terrors experienced by their encounters with It. Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy) is the first to return. Now stutter-free and a successful horror writer, Denbrough spots and reclaims his old bicycle “Silver” in a secondhand store from the irascible owner, aptly portrayed by Stephen King in a cameo appearance.

Former rebel Beverly Marsh (Jessica Chastain) arrives to be welcomed by Ben Johnson (Jay Ryan) who has morphed into a handsome, buff and well-known architect. They are soon joined by loudmouth, wise-cracker Richie Tozier (Bill Hader) who has accumulated a large following as a stand-up comedian. Lastly comes mama’s boy and hypochondriac Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransom), who has ventured from his wife and limousine service to confront his childhood nemesis.

The adult Losers assemble for dinner to revive their friendships while cautious rabbi’s son, Stan Uris (Andy Bean), remains conspicuously absent. A call from his distraught widow informs the group about his suicide. The previous joviality dissipates as It begins to insert its evil influence upon the members to plague them with doubt and fear as they band together to terminate the menace forever.

Actor Bill Skarsgard’s portrayal of Pennywise exudes a dark and menacing presence. No clownish theatrics—just enough terror with a glimpse of that massive mouth filled with multiple rows of pronged teeth to let viewers’ imaginations soar. Clad in baroque jerkin and breeches that showcase his lanky frame, Skarsgard projects a terrifying image as he strides towards his victims with those elongated limbs outstretched, hands open with talon-like claws, amber eyes blazing and of course, that wicked, drooling smile.

Director Andy Muschletti and writer Gary Dauberman collaborated to implement liberal changes to the original story, as they updated the script for the preferences of today’s audiences. The script retains basic elements as the audience is drawn into a mesmerizing series of flashbacks, as scenes from the young Losers segue into the experiences the mature members must contend with in Chapter Two.

ILLUSTRATION BY CHLOIE CULL

The periodic scenes involving the rambunctious adolescents revive the camaraderie and enthusiasm shared by the members as they defend themselves from peer bullies and the malicious clown.

Some scenes in Chapter Two seem too over-the-top and appear to repeat familiar themes from previous horror movies. There is a profusion of red balloons and more of a slasher and jump-scare feel to this production than the
first film, but Muschletti does continue to project a menacing and brooding fear throughout the movie as he sees through each terrifying surprise. Check out the transformation of Mrs. Kirsh, the acerbic hostess residing at Marsh’s
childhood slum flat and the spooky Well’s house on Niebolt Street.

IT Chapter Two earned an 80% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 70% approval from IMDb; however, its rating on Metacritic is 59%. Many reviews agreed the first film was better, although the second film offered more spectacular special effects.

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