I think the reason I have always loved horror movies is the certain catharsis factor. Many horror films explore our deepest insecurities and fears. In that way, horror films can be seen as escapist. They’re a way to put a mirror on the darkest parts of our society and dress it in clown makeup.
The first “It” really captured that idea. What made the 2017 film really work was that is was more than just about a killer clown. It was about the helplessness that kids felt growing up in a small town and how to cope with that through the connections made with others. I think the sequel, “It: Chapter Two,” although not a perfect film, does a good job on continuing with those themes.
The first movie became somewhat of an instant classic when it was released, becoming one of the highest grossing R-rated movies of all time. The sequel definitely had some momentous clown shoes to fill and, for the most part, it was able to bring the story to a satisfying conclusion. I don’t think anyone unfamiliar with the first film would get much enjoyment from this one because it’s so tied to the original. It almost feels like an extended epilogue.
Many of the character arcs in this movie involve the characters essentially learning the same lessons they learned in the first movie, but I think that fits in with the theme of confronting childhood trauma. And for what it’s worth, the casting for the adult versions of the main cast is incredible. They build on the performances of the actors from the original and their dynamics with each other give the movie its heart. The Loser’s Club is not just body fodder for a cool monster, their story carries the film.
I wouldn’t really call the movie that ‘scary.’ Pennywise has become such a recognizable monster to the point where his presence doesn’t have quite the same impact. The various horror scenes do well on their own, but they feel more like mini movies strung together than a cohesive whole. There are some plot points that feel like they don’t go anywhere and the film feels incredibly fast paced despite its nearly three hour run time. But the final act and its emotional conclusion really bring the whole thing together.
“It: Chapter Two” continues with the thematic aspects of the first film. The setting of Derry, Maine is once again shown as an idyllic town with a dark underbelly. Pennywise is portrayed as the physical representation of all the ugliness present in small towns. There is a scene at the very beginning that is particularly uncomfortable, almost to an unnecessary degree. But this change of tone makes sense. The Losers are no longer kids, they’re adults having to face the things that traumatized them as kids and still do in their adult lives.
And that’s what it’s all about, trauma. We see the main characters as people who have basically had their formative years taken from them by powers beyond their control. Despite the success they’ve found in life, there’s this sense of dissatisfaction. They have to finish what they started and the only way they can face the literal demons of their youth is by finding empowerment through their bonds with each other.
Although “It: Chapter Two” felt disjointed and maybe a bit CGI heavy, it never loses the things that make this story feel impactful. The main characters in the first film always felt like people you could have known from that age and seeing them face off against monsters, both real and metaphorical, makes the viewing experience extremely satisfying as someone who loved the first film. I look forward to when they inevitably remake it again 30 years from now.