It was with a morbid fascination that I sat down to watch the second instalment of the biggest scale horror movie since The Mummy in 1999- IT: Chapter Two. And breaking the sequel-curse, Pennywise the evil, dancing clown successfully sent my tub of popcorn to the floor as I, along with 50 others in the hall, jumped with hearts racing as he chomped down on his first, of the many, victims in the film. And, of course, the terrifying red balloons are back and so are the eerie phrase “You’ll float too!” *gulp*
The film picks up some twenty-seven odd years after the original film in 2017 where seven kids, the Losers, in the town of Derry beat an evil, supernatural force which had been feeding on children. In the present, the characters have all grown up and seemingly moved on with their lives with almost all of them having successful careers apart from Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) who is now handling Derry’s only library.
But as Pennywise returns, after lying dormant for 27 years, and embarks on a killing spree of chomping down on more children. Hesitant and afraid, initially, the Losers decide to put an end to the evil reign of Pennywise but are unaware of the fresh terrors their old nemesis has in store for them.
So, outstanding performances- check, brilliant scary sequences- check, a well-paced storyline, oh, well… When it comes to the casting decision- Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, James Ransome and Jay Ryan- it was just dead-on, as the actors were wonderful at embodying their character’s childhood persona, particularly Bill Hader, as Richie, who is a comedian by profession and hence fits like a glove into his character. Also, it pays a fitting homage to Stephen King’s novel It, on which both the films in the franchise are based on.
What somewhat kills the vibe of the film is it’s unnecessarily long plotline. Though I whole-heartedly agree that the 1000+ pages novel the film was based on, was an unputdownable read, to apply the same logic to a film isn’t really logical. In the 2-hour-49-minute movie, there will be moments when the story drags itself, while lacking any surprise elements, and relies more on jump scares instead of the innovatively crafted sequences from its predecessor.
It almost crawls in the second half to reach a conclusion, where, as expected, the evil is thwarted once more. But the wait of the epic showdown is so stretched that you may end up cursing the film in frustration over your dwindling patience (I did).
But the grandeur of the story is enough to push such minor flaws to the side because Pennywise is so much more than just scary, as he is a crafty villain who doesn’t depend on mere parlour tricks to scare his victims but uses psychological manipulation that threatens to break the spirit of our protagonists.
In an era where horror films are more about screaming, an unstable plot, and restricted to one single, haunted house, director Andy Muschietti and screenwriter Gary Dauberman made a film that explores simple yet powerful themes. Like how one has to face their fears on their own, the crucial bonds of friendship transcending years, and why you should hold on to the people who love you and not forget them in life’s race.
So, all in all, It: Chapter Two is an eventful watch, with the promise to make you stick to the edge of your chair in anticipation of what’s gonna happen next. My advice- don’t purchase popcorn at the cinemas, you’ll end up throwing it in the air as you shriek in terror at the horrors you will witness. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!