Arriving with anticipation Muschietti's new adaptation was a relatively faithful retelling of King's original story, and with the setting brought forward by 30-years it cashed in on the popular wave of 80's nostalgia. It served as the first chapter – The Losers Club – and told the story of seven young teenagers who were terrorised by an evil entity in the guise of a carnival clown. Aside from a few glaring liberties the film adhered to the original novel and proved to be a compelling coming-of-age drama married with suspense and horror.
IT: CHAPTER TWO picks up 27 years later, just like the second half of King's novel and the TV movie, and reunites the Losers Club as adults. Their memories of their childhood are vague and as the entity resumes its feeding on innocent children, recollections of their trauma return with it. Maintaining the same level of production value and overall aesthetic, this second-part successfully binds itself to the previous film. Sadly, the praise ends there because this concluding instalment serves as a bloated, nonsensical and ridiculously gratuitous exercise in ignorance, arrogance and disrespect.
The movie opens with a particularly horrific moment lifted directly from King's book, whereby a gay man is brutally bashed and thrown from a bridge. In today's progressive society this moment might sound relevant in a social-commentary sense, and yet it has no purpose. As originally written by King, this incident provided context and an ongoing narrative, which wove its way through the course of the first act, however on film it happens for no apparent reason and context be damned. From this moment on nothing about IT: CHAPTER TWO feels right. There is no cohesion or fluency, and with the entire film weaving in and out of flashback sequences it hits the screen like a stale funnel cake.
It must be said that the ensemble cast is very good, with Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy and Bill Hader leading their troupe of consummate players. The likeness to their younger counterparts is uncanny and credit must be given to the casting department for providing the film its only clear moment of integrity, for the calibre of talent amongst this cast is wasted and trod upon by the convoluted script, lack of vision and the hideous abundance of computer generated imagery.
Mainstream horror has changed over the years and has come to a point where filmmakers either don't understand what scares people OR audiences think that non-stop action amounts to terror. Either way there is a genuine lack of horror in this instalment, and whatever tropes returning director Andy Muschietti chose to exploit, he misses the mark on just about every one of them.
The working title for Chapter Two was “Pennywise” and it makes sense that the studio dropped that moniker considering how little time he's represented on screen. I personally never found this new depiction of King's evil clown to be scary, and the more monstrous they made him, the less terrifying he was (for my money the truly scary clowns are those without exaggeration). And so you can imagine how fatigued I became when the little screen time Pennywise had in this film was smeared with CGI thicker than Vaseline... there's so much stupid computer contortion and manipulation at play here that everyone forgot about suspense.
As mentioned earlier the achilles heel of the 1990 adaptation was the poorly executed finale, yet fans will attest to the rest of that film. It was this one major blemish which gave us reason to be excited about an all new adaptation, because with all of the advancements in technology filmmakers finally had the means to recreate King's ambitious confrontation. I'm sorry to report that they failed. They failed on an epic scale. They failed monumentally. They failed conceptually. They failed practically. They failed visual effectively. The finale of IT: CHAPTER TWO is what I would call a hot mess... or more bluntly, a cluster fuck! And the worst part? The dialogue blatantly notes McAvoy's author character being unable to write a good ending. Talk about a self-referential wank. Oy Vay!
I hated this film!!! And I hate that it sucks so much that there's absolutely no reason to revisit the first chapter. Thank God we have the 1986 novel to turn to in times of need, and thankfully Tommy Lee Wallace's telemovie is 95% good and far superior. Now lets not try this again... IT is not a story suitable for the screen...