January 1, 2022
3.5 / 5
3 / 5
It: Chapter Two Review: An Ambitious, Worthwhile Sequel
For the most part, It: Chapter Two follows the adult members of the Losers Club. As kids, they defeated Pennywise, the shape-shifting clown that resides in Derry, Maine. 30 years later, they have successful lives, and for the most part, their memories of childhood are cloudy. After it becomes apparent that Pennywise has risen from his long slumber, Mike Hanlon (the only member who stayed in Derry) calls the other Losers, hoping to build a team that will destroy Pennywise once and for all.
The first 10–15 minutes of a film are monumentally important. It’s the job of a filmmaker to hook audience members. In this case, director Andy Muschietti opens the film like a man possessed. It: Chapter Two introduces us to Adrian Mellon and Don Hagarty, a gay couple who reside in Derry. While trying to enjoy a night at the fairgrounds, a homophobic group corners and beats the couple to a pulp. I must be honest: This opening will offend many viewers. In terms of its violence and language, this opening is the stuff that reality is made of.
This sequence is short, but Muschietti makes the most of every second. It’s not just gore for gore’s sake. It’s social commentary wrapped up in the guise of a horror film. Consider the homosexual couple: They aren’t caricatures. They are a loving, selfless unit filled with peaceful aspects. This efficiency enables us to see the couple’s true colors. From there, we are fed to the dogs.
This opening, while graphic, is the definition of brutally honest. It holds a mirror up to our flawed society, showcasing the unnecessary forms of homophobia that lie within. For me, this theme of small town ugliness hits home. As a resident of small town America, I see traces of homophobia. I hear the harsh language. I see the anger that resides within the bodies of homophobic individuals. This kind of prejudice is still alive, particularly in rural settings like Derry.
The best sources of cinema take real life aspects and portray the events through the prism of fantastical storytelling. When done correctly, cinematic scenes become a form of social expression. Here we have a beautiful portrait of small-town America, which is often believed to be a location of harmony. But in classic Stephen King fashion, we realize that appearances are deceiving. As a society, we pretend that everything is okay, even though specific demographics are being trampled to the point of no return. Like King, Muschietti understands that often times, the monsters of reality are scarier than the creatures of narrative mythology.
Unfortunately, the rest of the film pales in comparison. Let me be clear…It: Chapter Two is an ambitious adaption, ushering in a new definition of cinematic horror epics. Clearly, Muschietti and company respect King’s source material. If you have any doubts, take a look at the film’s production design. Their love of horror is more than evident. The entire flick looks like a majestic nightmare. Sadly, even with all of its loving qualities, It: Chapter Two ends up being an overlong film, chock-full of narrative fat that slows down the story.
The joy of It came from its singular vision, fully committed to the exploits of the younger characters and their tortuous circumstances. The end result was a flick that tapped into the turmoil of innocence being minimized. We felt like an extension of that group. And even though the movie was abnormally long for a horror film, it never dragged because the characterizations were infinitely personal. In It: Chapter Two, it feels like, for the most part, Muschietti and Gary Dauberman (the screenwriter) are disinterested in the adult group. This proves to be problematic, considering the fact that adulthood is a key aspect within the story.
From a cinematic perspective, the film beats a dead horse. It[read more]