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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Review: It: Chapter Two

Director: Andy Muschietti
Screenplay: Gary Dauberman
Year: 2019

“It” was without a doubt one of the most successful movies of 2017, putting itself in the 7th position in the box office for that year. More impressive still is that it positions itself as the highest-grossing horror movie in history. Even adjusting for inflation, it imposes over the classic “The Exorcist” and another success of 2017 “Get Out”, who occupies the second and third spots on this list, respectively. Because the story that this movie presents allows for and because the numbers back it up, it was evident that a sequel would come, which became one of the most anticipated horror movies of 2019.

“It: Chapter Two” takes place 27 years later from the happenings on “It”. The resting period of the entity that shows itself as a fearsome clown has ended and he again wreaks havoc in Derry. Mike, the only one that remained in the small town, communicates with the rest of the members of the Loser’s Club to let them now It has come back. All of them have very successful lives, which are disrupted by this news and they start remembering everything that happened when they faced Pennywise while they were still kids.

Based on the popular novel by writer Stephen King, who has a cameo, this sequel follows the events of the second encounter of the Loser’s Club with Pennywise the clown. The first warning note for who decides to see it is its running time. With a running time of approximately three hours, the first thing to ask is if it really needed to be that long, and the answer is no. Of course, it is nice to see on-screen events that took place in the book, but not if they can be taken out without affecting the story. As a fun fact, there are rumors that the first version of the movie was about four hours long, which was later edited for three hours.

What gave so much notoriety to the first part of “It” was its frightening visuals of the clown and the use of many effective jump scares. This is repeated in the sequel and they both keep being good, but they feel less effective. Knowing that at this stage its box office success is assured, director Andy Muschietti ("Mama") doesn’t cut himself from showing blood, violence, or dismembered body parts in the story of screenwriter Gary Dauberman ("Annabelle Comes Home"), just like he did in the first one. This is something in which both parts of “It” goes against the theory that R rated movies are destined to have less success at the box office by limiting the audience that can see it. 

Right in the jump scares and in making the clown horrific is where this movie unfolds its talent. It is impressive the creativity with which Pennywise is presented in different facets and how they manage that all of them are frightening. The versatility that Pennywise has for changing identities allows having more creative freedom to present him as a giant naked old lady or as a putrid leper. The CGI is used extensively to achieve the desired images, but it is well done and in many scenes, it's hard to differentiate what’s CGI and what’s not. Many will expect that the story is just an excuse to present the clown in several terrifying scenarios but this is not the case, the plot is dense and the characters are all well developed.

The cast is another aspect in which this movie shines. Jessica Chastain (“Interstellar”), James McAvoy (“Split”), Bill Hader (“The Skeleton Twins”), Isaiah Mustafa (“Horrible Bosses”), Jay Ryan (“Neighbours”), and James Ransone (“Sinister”) gives life to the Loser’s Club. As what happened with their child versions, all the cast has great chemistry among themselves that brings forth that friendship bond that King so well works in his novel. This is not overly surprising, as the names in the cast are all known and with good acting careers. The work of Bill Skarsgård (“Deadpool 2”) as Pennywise is simply excellent and terrifying. 

The weakest point of this movie is when they try to explain some of the origin and identity of Pennywise, loosely tying his story to native American tribes. One of the things that makes this entity so horrific is the ambiguity with how its origin and essence has always been worked, promoting the mystery around him, and the way they try to do it doesn’t land as it should and feels like something that could have been taken out of the movie without harming the plot.

“It: Chapter Two” lives up to its expectations. Slightly inferior to its predecessor and with some flaws, as its runtime, an ending that deflects from the main message of the rest of the movie, and some topics that could have been left out, it's still an excellent horror movie. Its main virtues are its creativity, jump scares and how terrifying they manage to portray Pennywise, and how these three elements complement each other. In most moments in which it tries to be funny, it achieves it, as the running joke of Stephen King writing bad endings, and helps take a breath from the incessant tension it builds. “It” as well as “It: Chapter Two” are two essential movies for the collection of any horror movie fan.

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