The conclusion of Stephen King’s It.
I’m a huge horror fan, so I love it when a horror story can infect me with an unsettled feeling that sort of settles into my bones for the duration of the film. I feel like King’s stories, even when they aren’t terrifying, provide that kind of atmosphere- and that’s the type of atmosphere most horror fanatics crave. King’s stories also typically come with weird imagery and unusual ideas, and though those stories might revolve around things like killer clowns (“It”), psychic homicidal teenager girls (“Carrie”), or graveyards with resurrection powers (“Pet Sematary”), King usually finds a way to make those stories pretty compelling.
When “It” (or maybe now it’s “It Chapter One”(?)) came out two years ago I found I really enjoyed it. I thought the first “It” struck a perfect balance between creepy and fun, I thought the character chemistry between the kids was absolutely wonderful, and I thought the overall production was much higher in quality than many of the Stephen King adaptations I’ve seen in the past. The first film in this series gave me a lot of hope for the second, and for probably the first hour of this movie I really enjoyed myself, but then, unfortunately, this movie started to really fall apart after the first act.
“For twenty-seven years, I dreamt of you. I craved you. I missed you.”
Twenty-seven years after the events of the first “It”, mutilated bodies begin showing up in Derry once more, and the Losers Club- Beverly Marsh (Jessica Chastain, “Take Shelter”), Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy, “Split”), Richie Tozier (Bill Hader, “The Skeleton Twins”), Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa, “Horrible Bosses”), Ben Hanscom (Jay Ryan), Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransone, “Sinister”), and Stanley Uris (Andy Bean, “Transformers: The Last Knight”)- reteam to finish off Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard, “Deadpool 2”) once and for all.
So lets start with the good stuff. For the first act, I actually thought this movie was headed in the right direction. The opening scene depicts a gay couple getting assaulted by a group of rednecks, and then one of the members of the couple is thrown over a bridge and, as he’s being carried down the river, Pennywise kills him. The scene is creepy and also pretty freaking brutal. I thought that scene was almost as good as the opening of the first film where Georgie- the little boy- is killed by having his arm torn off and getting sucked into the sewers. I thought there were a few other creepy moments in the first act too- (the little girl getting killed beneath the bleachers was great) in fact almost everything leading up to the Chinese restaurant was pretty good. I thought the casting was pretty spot on for almost everyone, and I thought that as far as acting goes, everyone did a fine job. There were dozens of different monsters and ghoulish creatures that popped up here and there, and the designs always looked pretty polished. While I compliment the overall design, I did find myself wishing that at least a few of the monsters were done with practical effects (I would say 95% of the monsters were completely CGI). CGI is fine, and it’s impossible to avoid in today’s films, but I felt like this movie in particular could’ve benefitted from some practical Cronenberg or Carpenter-esque effects. I feel like horror films in particular benefit when things feel gross and gritty and grimy, and CGI monsters, even when they’re made to look as if they’re gritty and gross, always tend to just look clean and polished too me. It cheapens the thrills.
One thing that this film has to struggle with is the fact that the source material is sort of known for having a weird ending; in fact, King himself makes a cameo in this movie and makes a comment about the ending of another character’s book- it feels very tongue in cheek. The best part about the book “It” is when they’re all kids, so logically, the part when the members of Losers Club are all adults is going to be less interesting. I was sort of baffled that this film encroaches on the three-hour mark, because there’s so much in this movie that feels unnecessary in this movie, and a lot of other stuff that felt somewhat underdeveloped. I found myself thinking that a lot could’ve been cut out, but I also wish they would’ve spent more time with other scenes. The chemistry between the kids in the first movie made everything in that film a lot more fun, and in this film, the adults share very little of that chemistry. I also thought this movie tried to play up the nostalgia for the first film way too much- repeating Ben’s poem to Beverly over and over again got to be so cheesy that I found myself braying with laughter during the climax. Constantly jumping back and forth between the two timelines also made this film feel longer than it actually was- and after a while the constant flipflop just got to be exhausting and borderline boring.
The worst part about the film was the incredibly schmaltzy way they ended it. Voiceovers, slow motion flashbacks to the Losers playing as kids, and over-earnest music made me want to roll my eyes and just leave the theater. The last five minutes feel completely out of place- it’s like the movie forgets it’s a horror flick and aspires to become a Hallmark Channel Original film.
I actually think watching this film has made me appreciate the first film more. This isn’t the worst ending we could’ve received- it’s fine- it looks good and it’s got a few truly creepy moments, but I found myself wanting a lot more from it. I’ll probably still end up watching this film once more at some point in my life- I’d like to watch Parts One and Two back to back to see if I’ve missed anything. As a whole this was pretty disappointing, but, again, I don’t think it’s the worst way we could’ve ended this.
Review Written By: