By ANA-SOFIA MUÑOZ
The past—and killer clowns—will always come back to haunt you.
After the success of the first IT movie released in 2017, IT: Chapter 2 has easily been one of the most highly anticipated motion pictures of the year.
At the end of the first installment, the Losers’ Club, comprised of seven outcasted preteen protagonists, made an oath to return to their hometown of Derry, Maine, if they had not truly succeeded in killing the evil shape-shifting clown, Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård). In the sequel, the group of friends reassemble twenty-seven years after the events of the first movie, living up to their promise of finally ending Pennywise’s reign over Derry.
Surprisingly, however, IT: Chapter 2 is not so much frightening as it is heartwarming. The film teaches a valuable lesson about learning to accept our pasts and how they shape us, without letting them define our present. While it has received mixed reviews from fans and critics alike, the movie overall does an effective job of bringing the IT storyline to a close.
For one thing, the cast does a phenomenal job of portraying a strong sense of youth in their adult characters. In the film, returning to their hometown has caused the characters to revert back to more childish ways. This is especially prevalent in the comedic chemistry between fan favorites Richie Tozier (Bill Hader) and Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransone), who upon meeting for the first time in decades, easily slip back into constant bickering and juvenile ‘your mom’ jokes. The friendship between the characters that is established so well in the first movie almost immediately resurfaces among them as adults, as they reminisce over dinner in one of their first scenes as a group. Essentially, much like its predecessor, the film nicely incorporates plenty of these light-hearted moments between those of sheer terror.
Additionally, another well-executed facet is the emotional factor that pervades the film. The thriller’s storyline is heavily influenced by the characters’ insecurities, making the fears they face much more formidable. In the movie, it is no longer monsters that frighten each member of the Losers’ Club—instead, it is the various aspects of each character’s past that continues to hinder their adult lives. The film makes it a point to emphasize this theme, and displays how fear can inhibit a person’s ability to live freely, regardless of their age.
Of course, even in light of the comedy and thematic elements within the film, there are still many scenes that thrill audience members and keep them engaged. Bill Skarsgård continues to terrify as Pennywise; he draws his victims in more slowly and deliberately, keen on not only feeding, but also creating a sense of true horror in those he preys upon. For instance, Pennywise lures Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy) into a funhouse maze, forcing the character to watch helplessly as he kills a child. Moments like these are downright grotesque and have the innate ability to leave viewers feeling particularly disturbed. In this way, the film inevitably instills genuine dread into its audience.
Despite the motion picture’s success, some horror fanatics claimed to be disappointed in the sequel.
According to critics, the film’s focus on the theme of moving on from insecurity detracts from its effectiveness as a horror movie. They argue that its attempts to send a positive message come off as preachy at times, and would have been better off left to the viewers’ interpretation instead of so openly stated. Although this may be true for some scenes, a deeper look at each character’s individual insecurities ultimately allows the audience to form a greater attachment to them and strengthens their relatability.
Likewise, the same has been said about the comedic element of the film, as many scenes intended to frighten the audience are too heavily laced with humor, sometimes providing comedic relief too soon or when it is not needed. Nevertheless, the use of comedy throughout the movie adds to its unique charm and pays homage to Stephen King’s respective novel.
Overall, the film produces more positives than negatives, despite many critical reviews. While it may not live up to the high expectations set by the first movie, it is still incredibly entertaining and provides a sense of closure for fans. In essence, IT: Chapter 2 keeps audiences at the edge of their seats while expertly bringing viewers back into a world of distinct and lovable characters. Thanks to the brilliant cast, the film has the potential to leave a lasting impression on pop culture for years to come.
In the end, the iconic IT franchise will continue to live on in the hearts of Losers everywhere, regardless of criticism.