Set twenty-seven years after the events of the first instalment, It: Chapter Two brings the Loser’s Club back together as they reunite in Derry to defeat It once and for all. Bringing in an ensemble cast led by Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy to play the Losers as adults, It: Chapter Two is just as unexpected as the forms It can take. It’s important to remember that even in the book, the adult segments and teenage segments create an entirely different viewpoint and therefore, this creates an entirely different film. While the first segment brings us that introduction to It (in particular, Pennywise the Dancing Clown), the adults are already familiar to his tricks and aims. By this point, we’re familiar with the individual fears and the gang know how to defeat them; however It isn’t willing to give up that easily as he has been wreaking havoc on Derry. This film is told from the perspective of the insider as outsider as they witness tragedies happen but are unable to do anything about it and question whether they should do anything about it. After all, what has Derry done for them? It’s a film that shows that right and wrong isn’t always black and white.
With the exception of Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), who stayed in Derry, the gang moved away to various locations with their memories of the tragic events blurred the further they live. This may seem like an escape but the members of the club are leading unfulfilled lives. Bill (James McAvoy) is a seemingly successful writer who can’t seem to write a good ending, Beverly (Jessica Chastain) has found herself in another abusive relationship, Richie (Bill Hader) is an alcoholic stand-up comedian, Ben (Jay Ryan) is a dissatisfied architect and Eddie (James Ransone) has married a woman who is just like his mother (a funny touch being that they cast the same actress for extra measure). The only member of the gang who seems to be content is Stanley (Andy Bean) who is happily married and is looking forward to going on holiday. The trauma of the past events slowly piece together for the group as the film goes on but for Stanley, it immediately comes crashing down as soon as he sees the Derry number pop up on his phone. It’s brilliantly cast with Chastain and Hader particularly being my highlights from the Losers. The rapport between them feels as natural as it was in the first instalment.
The forms that It takes in the first instalment are the fears of the gang members in particular. In this film, the forms become more bizarre and veer on the side of grotesque with baby heads on the bodies of cockroaches as one gruesome example. The scenes when these creatures dominate can tend to go on for too long but the effects are brilliant and it is terrifying to watch. With double the budget, the special effects team have gone to town with making It as disgusting as possible with all sorts of bodily fluids floating around the place.
And now it’s time to talk about It itself. Bill Skarsgård has somehow exceeded the expectations from the first one and manages to bring another level of depth as he uses his emotions to trick the kids of today. One little girl is touched by his story of being a lonely clown with no friends in a scene that sees Pennywise act weirdly human which is unsettling to watch. We see Pennywise become completely unhinged as he is gradually backed into a corner as the gang work together to figure out how to kill It once and for all. He’s cheeky and mischievous as ever but more determined to make the deaths as gory as possible.
Both Andy Mushietti and Gary Dauberman are reliable in the roles of director and screenwriter, respectively and clearly have love and passion for the novel as they are faithful as can be. Even the changes that have been made feel necessary and natural to the progression of the plot and are mainly because of the time difference between the book and films. The brilliance of it ensures that today’s audiences are terrified just as the 80s audience would have been terrified from the book. If the films had followed the timelines in the book then it wouldn’t have the same impact due to how much the world has changed since then. One change that I am uncertain about was that rather than have Ben remain in Derry, they stayed with Mike. Mike is the one in the book who does all the research rather than Ben so naturally that would mean that in the film Ben stays in Derry so that aspect seemed disjointed in the film as we don’t really see Mike’s progression and research into madness from that early age which is done really well in the book. This doesn’t take away from the film but it did make me wonder why they decided to do it this way instead.
The younger cast also make welcome appearances in flashbacks from the firsts film as well as additional scenes that were mainly filmed alongside the first film. Seeing the shots of the gang as teenagers against their adult counterparts shows how perfectly cast the film is, particularly Eddie and Beverly.
It’s quite difficult to compare the two films as they have completely different tones and themes. It would be too simple to merely state that it is a “grown-up version” of the first part as the characters have actually struggled to grow-up and remain largely as adult versions of their teenage selves which begs the question of: have they really escaped It? Did It stunt their emotional and mental growth into adulthood? It’s certainly more mature than its predecessor in its themes and especially explicit in its portrayal of abuse with the homophobic attack at the beginning one of the most shocking scenes I have ever seen in a film. It was horrific to read it in the book but on the screen, they didn’t hold back with the brutality and it showed that the greatest monster is actually mankind.
My favourite aspect of the film is a cameo by the brilliant mind behind the book. Yes. Stephen King makes a brilliant cameo as an antique shop owner who extorts Bill when he wants to buy his bike. It’s a great scene to watch and makes the film feel homely. It’s also a nice homage to the works of Stephen King. Let’s not forget that his work has been adapted the most and not always successfully so it’s great to see that this has his seal of approval.
What did you think of the film? Did you enjoy it? Let me know in the comments below!