(Spoilers Ahead for IT Chapter 2)
During its short run in theatres so far, IT Chapter 2 has already grossed over $200 million. Though in the same time frame, IT had grossed more than $250 million. And the first was rated substantially higher than its sequel by some critics. IT Chapter 2’s reviews were something of a disappointment to fans who waited two long years until the highly anticipated horror released. It was the same setting, set twenty-seven years on. The same strange inhuman clown. And in reality, a very similar storyline to the first chapter. But 30 minutes longer. And a whole lot less scary. So what went wrong with IT Chapter 2?
IT Chapter 2 Wasn’t Scary
Stephen Kings IT novel was prided by being a horror novel. The first movie did this plenty of justice. The antagonist, IT (or Pennywise), had a very scary appeal. Transforming into whatever you feared was a neat trick, and meant that the audiences had something to be afraid about too. By the time IT Chapter 2 came around, we all knew about Pennywise. And with its history explained early on in the film, it took away the ambiguous horror about the character. And that made it far more predictable.
But that isn’t just it. Despite the characters staying the same, they’ve aged. And in terms of horror, watching middle-aged adults being scared isn’t as terrifying as watching children being scared. Generally, that’s because as children we had far more fears than as adults, due to a lack of understanding of the world. So when we see ourselves in a character, it becomes more chilling if that character is a child. Furthermore, children are a lot more vulnerable than adults, so it would make sense for us to fear for the children’s safety, rather than the adults.
Pennywise also had a lot less of a presence in the second chapter than the first. He seemed like a second plot, whereas the individual story arcs of the ‘losers club’ stole the limelight. The villain didn’t seem that interesting, as he did in 2017. This is probably a result of knowing the villain’s history, and the losers now being adults, capable of defending themselves.
Looks Aren’t Always Everything
What also took away from the horror, was the reliance on CGI. The practical effects were where the first film thrived, and it’s also where some of the best scares of the second film came out of. Seeing a huge decaying CGI woman (during the search for Bev’s artifact) was by no means realistic, and so took away a lot of the fear that was meant to creep inside me.
Though it’s important to note looks arent everything. But in terms of a movie that meant to keep you sleepless for the next week, it accounts for a lot. Which is why IT Chapter 2 scores poorly when it comes to scares. IT Chapter 2 probably won’t be in store for any special effects Oscar.
A Spine-Chilling Beginning to IT Chapter 2...
The beginning is probably the strongest aspect of the movie and resonated with great potential for the reoccurrence of Pennywise. It was also a fantastically gory and upsetting fate for an unnamed character, setting the mood perfectly. The Losers’ Club reunion was also a highlight, with a collection of gore, horror, and comedy. This was ultimately ruined with the quick unmasking of Pennywise’s origin by Mike. Although some scary moments were running into the second act of the film, they couldn’t reach the standard of the first act. The horror aspect was replaced with comedy. One-liners by Richie killed the mood several times too.
…But With a Cheap Ending
Everyone’s talking about the ending to IT Chapter 2 and it’s not for any good reason. Ironically, throughout the film, there’s the pun that Bill’s books have bad endings. Even Stephen King makes a cameo as the storekeeper (where Bill’s bike, ‘Silver’ was kept), and confirms this. And it seems that IT Chapter 2 also has a rather lackluster ending too. It may be true that the ending was substantially better in King’s novel, although it doesn’t convey the same message across on the big screen. It seems cheap, kind of boring, and cliche.
It wasn’t just cheap in terms of the story either. The CGI feel to the ending scenes with Pennywise the clown-spider-monster thing was so nonsensical I found it difficult to develop a sense of fear. And that was true with a large majority of CGI jump scares. At one point I even wanted to be scared, which is bad considering a horror movie should want you to feel the opposite. I would have preferred an ending similar to the first movie, rather than it being a battle of mentalities, which happens to not be anywhere near as a spectacular end.
Flashbacks that Killed the Mood
Pacing in a film is everything. If done correctly, then it’ll be a perfectly crafted emotional rollercoaster. But if done wrong, it turns out more like a bumpy ride down a beaten track in a car with poor suspension. As you may have guessed, IT Chapter 2 was somewhere closer to the latter. And that can be largely attributed to flashbacks.
As a result of being set 27 years on, there’s inevitably some catching up to be done between characters as well as between there older and younger selves. The ways the characters find their lost artifacts (which are used to defeat Pennywise) are compelling. But in being set in a linear format, with each character finding their artifact, and then being scared by the clown is not only predictable, but it also leads to bad pacing. This is hampered by the fact flashbacks of peaceful, fearless times are brought up in times where it should be fear that is built up.
So rather than the primary storyline being dominated by Pennywise, its the Losers’ relationship with themselves and each other. Even though it shows great character development and emotion (like the relationship between Beverly and Ben), it fails to be, or build-up to anything scary.
So Was IT Chapter 2 Really That Bad?
IT Chapter 2 wasn’t by any means a ‘bad movie’. But it just didn’t hit the mark where its previous installment did. The sequel wasn’t as scary or as well-paced. Overall, IT Chapter 2 was a missed opportunity. When it came to the Losers’ Club, it was a good (but not great) film. But it didn’t meet the ideals of the horror genre like IT (2017) did.
It’s also important to know that the film was based on source material that could have been stretched out to well over seven hours. Which is why it was made into a mini-series twenty-seven(ish) years ago.
Did you like IT Chapter 2? Or did it miss the mark for you as well? Let us know in the comments below!
For more on everything horror, check out our other articles on The Nerd Stash.