In 1990, the first adaptation of Stephen King’s It came to the screen in the form of a TV miniseries. I was 15-years-old and a rabid horror fan at the time. So much so, that en route to my first trip to Disney World, I made my parents pull over for the night so I wouldn’t miss part two (before you judge me too harshly, we had gotten a late start and were going to have to stop at some point anyway and this was long before the days of DVR’s and On Demand). The third act left me a little deflated, but I liked the film overall, and I was extremely excited when it was announced they would finally be making a big screen version.
When “Chapter One” was released in 2017 I was not disappointed. It was everything I loved about the original but turned up to 11 with no censor restrictions or television run time to adhere to. Tim Curry’s terrifying portrayal of Pennywise The Dancing Clown was iconic but for this take, director Andy Muschietti and crew chose the talented Bill Skarsgård to assume the mantle. As a seasoned horror fan, it’s usually tough for me to find a movie that is legitimately scary but It definitely had some intense moments exceeding every expectation. It’s mainly because of these reasons that, once again, It: Chapter Two left me feeling a little let down.
Make no mistake, the film is worth seeing– especially, if you enjoyed the first outing. But the scares are not as plentiful and Skarsgård is given fewer opportunities to shine on his own merits in favor of CGI enhancements and funhouse creatures gone wrong. A centerpiece of the story is a town carnival which is an appropriate reflection of the film itself. While “Chapter One” was a nightmare, the thrills in “Chapter Two” seem like haunted Halloween attractions. There’s lots of great and disturbing imagery and creatures meant to scare you, but it all comes off fun and exciting rather than terrifying.
The film is also hilarious– and that was a little disarming at first, but after a while, you just learn to sit back and enjoy the carnival ride. I give the filmmakers credit because the latter events in Stephen King’s novel have always been a bit divisive, questionable, and… Well… Just plain odd. The stellar cast does a great job incorporating some of those strange elements into the mythos while actually managing to make them work. There’s even a cameo by Stephen King that is arguably his best appearance in any film. The third act of It: Chapter Two delivers and provides a satisfying finish to the story. Some parts seem like the boss fight at the end of a video game, but the heart of the story outshines any minor stumbles.
Manage your expectations. Don’t expect to be scared the way you may have been the first time around and most of all, allow yourself to laugh. You should leave the theater with a smile on your face.