The days are getting shorter, the air is getting cooler, and the leaves are changing colors. All indications that Fall — and the season of Halloween — will soon be upon us. Therefore, Warner Brothers thought the release of “IT: Chapter Two,” was the perfect way to kick off this season and bring viewers the anticipated follow up to the hit horror sensation from 2017. Unfortunately, though, the end product is not so much an explosive bang, as it is a meekly deflated balloon.
The film opens 27 years following the first movie, after the kids of the Losers Club supposedly killed the mysterious monster known as Pennywise the Clown, or “IT.” However, in the present day, the killings and clown sightings emerge again.The adult Losers now have to return to their hometown of Derry, ME to finish the job once and for all.
This sequel takes all the lesser aspects of its predecessor and cranks them up to 11. The jokes are more crass, the swearing is more frequent, and the scary music is so loud that if you dare venture to the theater to see it, you may want to bring earplugs. Plus, that doesn’t even get into its tonal dissonance problems or overuse of horrid CGI.
“IT: Chapter Two” is a comedy mismarketed as a thriller/horror film, and I’m only half kidding. It’s a tonal mess from the first scene, where as a homosexual couple are beaten by a group of homophobes, one insults a bully by comparing his haircut to that of Meg Ryan. This inappropriate placement of humor within scenes that are supposed to terrify or scare continues throughout the film, and begs the question of exactly what genre of movie they were trying to make.
A horror-comedy can work well when the elements are mixed with care, but here jokes are shoved into both comedic and horror scenarios alike. The result is mood whiplash — or it would be, if the jokes were actually funny.
The scary elements are all standard to that of every modern big budget horror movie — with long periods of ‘tense’ silence followed by excessively loud sound effects and imagery so exaggerated that it fails to be scary. The powers of the monster are also left rather vague, ranging from shapeshifting, mind reading, mind control, to even hallucination inducing. There’s no clear delineation between what’s real and what’s a hallucination, and that means it’s difficult to be invested in the action. I also don’t understand why IT is so uninterested in finishing off the Losers when they are clearly a serious threat to its life.
The primary issue is that the movie is way too of a large scale for its own good. The problem is home streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime are encroaching more and more on the theatrical experience with high quality content at a fraction of the price. As a result, every big Hollywood studio feels the need to turn each of their movies playing at the cinema bigger and better, and it shows that it bigger isn’t always better, even when it comes to cinema.
Keeping the genre to your basic horror film is at its best when it stays more restrained. However, every cinematic horror film released today feels the need to hypercharge the creepy imagery, turn up the volume on the scary music and sound effects, and have an off the rails ending, that — in the minds of the producers — makes the audience’s expense of going to the theater worthwhile.
In “The Shining,” one of the best horror movies ever made — and very clunkily referenced in this film — it ended with a chase through a maze. Sometimes simplicity and subtlety is all you need, but this movie, like the first “IT,” aims to please the teenagers who want loud noises to tell them when the movie is scary and includes vulgar jokes to snigger at.
Is the movie ultimately entertaining? Sure, but only as a mindless exercise in lazy horror filmmaking. It’s a shame too, since the acting is pretty good across the board, the music is decent when it’s not trying to deafen you, and the cinematography and lighting are top notch. If only the horror elements weren’t so overblown, it could have transcended the limits of pulp horror.
Two and a half stars.
- Great performances.
- Excellent atmosphere and cinematography.
- You can’t beat a spooky clown.
- Too long.
- Unconvincing special effects.
- Tries too hard to scare.
- Poor attempts at humor.