Movie review: “IT Chapter Two” makes audiences hold bladders for scary length of time

Sad Pennywise
Ellen Benner/THE REVIEW
In spite of the hype, IT falls flat on its face with superficial character development.

BY
Music and Society Editor

Even menacing red balloons are not safe from a sharpened pin.

After a two year wait, “IT Chapter Two” was released this past weekend to near-universal hype after the gloriously gory romp of the first Stephen King remake. “Chapter One” was a smash hit, making $700 million at the box office and searing Pennywise the Clown into American popular culture and Hot Topics across the country.

“IT Chapter One” was so successful partially because it was released at the perfect time, capitalizing on the 80s nostalgia trend sparked by “Stranger Things” in 2016. The main characters in the Losers’ Club were an amalgamation of quirky, well-developed characters that had wonderful chemistry. Pitted against the sewer-dwelling, child-consuming monstrosity that is Pennywise the Clown, the Losers had to face immeasurable odds and terror in their hometown of Derry to defeat the menace.

What made the first film so spectacular was its sensibility to be dramatic while not taking itself too seriously. The children faced peril and there was gratuitous violence and disturbing imagery throughout the movie, but there was a giddiness in the insanity of Pennywise’s absurdist actions complemented by a purity in the children’s crude banter with each other.

This perfect balance of humor and horror is only seen in fleeting moments in “IT Chapter Two,” which brings the Losers together again 27 years later for a rematch with Pennywise. Despite being grown up and played by new actors, the dialogue remains unrealistically crude and child-like. The casting all-around — especially that of Bill Hader as Richie and Jessica Chastain as Beverly — is undeniably spot-on, capturing the temperaments of the children in the previous film. There seems to be little in the way of true character development, however, other than physical manifestations (cue eye-rolling fat kid becomes hunk trope.)

Each of the characters goes on a quest of sorts once they are reunited to find a relic of their past to be used in a ritual that will supposedly kill the resurfaced Pennywise. For each character, their item represents some repressed trauma from their childhood such as homosexuality, sexual assault or the death of a family member. This structure was genuinely thought-provoking and moving, offering compelling vignettes to explain the character’s motivations and showcasing some way that Pennywise was involved inventively — for only the first three.

There were six characters.

Every single character flashes back to their disturbing past, Pennywise shows up, there’s a jump scare and the relic is discovered; this is why the movie unnecessarily slogs through nearly three hours. Each scene is an exact fill-in-the-blank scenario that becomes dull, uninspired and completely predictable.

Furthermore, a distracting love subplot is introduced as a weak attempt at creating a tense love triangle. The film also falls flat on sentimentalism and making the audience really care about the grown up Losers situation mainly because of the corny dialogue.

With that being said, “IT Chapter Two” remains entertaining solely because it is a visual spectacle. This film seriously includes some of the most creative and forward-thinking CGI in movies period. One scene in particular of a detached head growing legs and scuttling about will haunt me for a long time to come. Pennywise inventively shape-shifts and creates nightmarish monsters and scenarios that look incredible. The transitions from scene to scene are also noteworthy for being dizzyingly exciting.

Although “IT Chapter Two” didn’t live up to expectations, it still offers a couple scares, some laughs and enough insane visuals to keep audience’s heads spinning. The scariest part though is most definitely being expected to hold your bladder for the movie’s two hour, 49 minute runtime.

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