Following on from the events of ‘It’, all the members of the “Losers Club” have grown up and gone their own ways. However the evil that brought them all together (and that they swore to defend) has returned. As more and more children start to disappear in rural Derry, Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) puts out a call to his childhood friends. However will it be enough to stop Pennywise, the evil clown?
... the over-top, cartoonish symbolism that marked out the previous film is back with an even darker look.
Early into the second instalment of Andy Muschietti’s colossal adaptation of Stephen King’s ‘It’, the over-top, cartoonish symbolism that marked out the previous film is back with an even darker look. Opening on a hate crime which does nothing to address the hatred that perpetuates it, ‘It Chapter 2’s’ values are painfully exposed, caught between modern production values and the age of story that it’s telling.
With a strong adult cast that includes James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Jay Ryan, Isaiah Mustafa, James Ransome and Andy Bean, ‘It Chapter 2’ wastes no time and ploughs straight into its on-going story. However it is the casting of Bill Hader as Richie Tozier (previously played by Finn Wolfhard) that catches the eye throughout. Satirising whilst also starring in this instalment, Hader’s performance almost borders on meta as he sends up both the situation that he finds himself in and Richie’s marmite-like self-centredness.
Whilst It’s signature telegraph poles are still very much in evidence (the colour red, the appearance of red balloons, etc.), ‘It Chapter 2’ also opts for some darker hues. Nowhere is this seen better than in Jessica Chastain’s stand-out scene with Mother Kersh. Dialling down ‘It’s’ propensity for flag-waving every scare that’s about to scream, it’s this two hander that firmly makes the case for Andy Muschietti’s adaptation to be seen as a supernatural drama rather than a horror. Throw in a nicely sub-texted cameo scene with It’s creator Stephen King ridiculing James McAvoy’s career as an author and ‘It Chapter 2’s’ needle clearly skips a thematic vein to land in more dramatic territory.
However that was the build-up.
Moving onto the third act, and the eventual stand-off with Bill Skarsgård’s Pennywise the clown, everything pretty much turns into an elongated spider. Stretching its fidelity to the source material way beyond the attention span that should have been spun, ‘It Chapter 2’ gets stuck in an endless succession of scenes where its shouts are perpetually screamed.
For the fans of the original TV series and readers of the original novel, there is still undeniably much to enjoy here. ‘It Chapter 2’ is a fantastically well-made movie and a superbly-rendered adaptation that will serve their memories well. However, for those new to the story and seen in totality, ‘It’ might actually seem that you can have too much of a good thing.