The circus clown. There’s just something about it (no pun intended) that scares many people, myself included. I too belong to that group which absolutely abhors Pennywise’s dance, his voice calling out “Georgie“, and his wide smile in dimly lit areas. But there’s work to be done, so armed with a cozy jacket and a sturdy, chunky backpack for warmth and protection respectively, yours truly headed into the theatre for this review of It Chapter Two.

Pennywise the clown in IT: Chapter 2
Pennywise the clown is back after 27 years of hibernation.

Quick recap: In IT, Pennywise first appeared in a roadside drain when he took Bill’s brother, Georgie, who was trying to retrieve his paper boat. The events led a group of high-school outcasts to form the Losers’ Club, which went about locating Georgie, saving another friend Beverly, and killing Pennywise (or so they thought). IT ended with Ben’s realisation that Pennywise was not dead, but would instead return 27 years later, which led to a blood oath within the Losers’ Club pledging to return together to kill Pennywise when he strikes again.

Now here we are with the sequel. The members of the Losers’ Club are reunited in their hometown and looking to finish what they’ve sworn to do. Whether or not IT Chapter 2 is as scary as its first, I’ll leave that to you. But those covers of mine? Unused.

a no-brainer continuity
Reunion of the members of the Losers' Club in IT Chapter 2
Reunion of the members of the Losers’ Club. From left: Eddie (James Ransone), Ben (Jay Ryan), Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), Bill (James McAvoy), Beverly (Jessica Chastain) and Richie (Bill Hader).

Director Andy Muschietti made it real simple for IT Chapter 2 to follow, but you really are better served watching the first movie for context. Key elements of Derry town and characters have been retained — Eddie’s inhaler, Richie’s profanities, and Bill’s stutter. Hence, figuring out which grown-up is who is fairly intuitive. Muschietti also flawlessly balanced between narrating the present’s events while showing flashbacks to the past, to give a complete picture of all six surviving adults for viewers to comprehend and fill in the gaps in the timeline.

A reminder: memories can be scary too
IT Chapter 2: The Losers' Club looking at their childhood reflection through a store in Derry.
The Losers’ Club looking at their reflection and seeing the child version of themselves through a store in Derry.

In the sequel, Pennywise has become a more patient and intelligent creature. By exploiting the various suppressed memories of the adults in the film, it has gained an upper-hand over the Losers’ Club. Call it clichéd, but that’s what the film wanted to remind us about. There is no merit in suppressing any memory – one should simply accept it as a fact of life. That, in my opinion, was a theme that was well explored, particularly via the new information viewers can gather from Richie’s (Bill Hader) memories and ending.

an emotional rollercoaster
IT Chapter 2: Pennywise is back to haunt the children of Derry.
Pennywise is back to haunt the children of Derry.

Be prepared for a rocky ride as Muschietti toys with your emotions: almost every jump scare is resolved either with Richie’s quips or gore. Some viewers may dislike it and find the intensity and suspense a stop-start experience that undermines the element of fear brought by Bill Skarsgård’s psychotic performance. Others may take issue with Pennywise’s diminished screen time in the sequel. There are also dreadful scenes with poorly executed CGI effects.

It ultimately comes down to what you’re looking for. For me, it’s simply a different film with an altered pace. Consider this: if you were consistently scared out of your wits for 169 minutes, it would’ve simply been a meaningless flat-liner. Muschietti has at least delivered a good story of revenge and redemption, backed it up with terrific acting, and even thrown in a Stephen King cameo.

IT Chapter 2, rated M18, is in theatres on 5th September 2019.

Image credit: Warner Bros

written by.
Lester Tan
Lester is into films, food and basically anything culture related under the sun.

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