The Alien Critic Reviews...
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TAC Reviews...IT: Chapter Two 

Date Posted: 16/11/21


The sequel or second half of 2017’s IT (or IT Chapter One) and sees the grown-up Losers Club heading home to Derry, Maine to fulfil the blood oath they made as children because Pennywise has returned once more. IT Chapter Two was released in 2019 with the child actors from the first film appearing in flashbacks and new scenes. The adults that take over the characters are Jessica Chastain as Beverly “Bev” Marsh, James McAvoy as Bill Denbrough, Bill Hader as RichieTozier, Isaiah Mustafa as Mike Hanlon, James Ransone as Eddie Kaspbrak, with Andy Bean as Stan Uris and Jay Ryan as Ben Hanscom. Bill Skarsgard reprises the role of IT/Pennywise the Dancing Clown/Bob Grey. 


Film Poster


I have mentioned before that I enjoy writing novels, and short stories generally in the horror and action genre. However, despite this I must confess that I have never read any Stephen King novels but like many people who are horror fans I know a little bit about his work, most notably the Stephen King tropes, which include but are not limited to: his stories include a struggling writer who is possibly also an alcoholic, there are bullies what have no humanity in them whatsoever, usually a pretty girl in the mix, there will be religious zealots, something that is supposed to be scary is comical, and finally the endings of his stories are generally pretty bad. There are more but they are some of the most notable. As a result there is usually a consensus that read one book, read them all. Some of the most iconic horror films are based upon King’s novels which include The Shining and Misery. Yet there are far more films and miniseries which are laughably bad with some arguing that his novels just don’t translate very well into other forms of media. Personally I am more familiar with the film adaptations and would confidently say that Christine, The Shining, and Misery are amongst some of my favourite horror movies. I enjoyed IT Chapter One and was keen to see where the story would go with the sequel, so let’ take a look.


The film opens with a homosexual couple at the fair in Derry, Maine, who are attacked by a group of homophobic youths as they are on their way home. One of the two is brutally beaten and thrown in the river, as he struggles in the torrent, a clown on the bank offers a helping hand. His boyfriend races downstream to try and save him only to see him in the arms of a clown on the far side of the water. The clown then attacks the man, seemingly consuming his heart as red balloons billow from the bridge above.


Mike Hanlon, the only member of the Losers who remained in Derry, investigates the scene discovering one of the popped red balloons with a message written in blood on the bridge supports “Come Home”. Mike has spent his life researching IT and believes that it has once again returned to its feeding ground.


Making the calls to the rest of the Losers Club, Mike convinces them to return to town, with the exception of Stan who commits suicide out of fear of the creature they faced 27 years before. The rest of them gather at a Chinese restaurant and share jokes, stories and enjoy one another’s company. Mike eventually brings the conversation to the topic of why he has brought them back, but the others have forgotten almost everything about their encounter with the creature known as “IT”. Mike begins to jog their memories of that summer. At the end of the meal the fortune cookies reveal that IT knows Stan is dead, before bizarre creatures emerge from the cookies attacking the group. Not wanting to die Richie and Eddie decide to leave again, but Bev reveals that whilst under the influence of the Dead Lights in IT’s lair when she was a girl, she foresaw their deaths if they fail to kill IT once and for all. Despite her warning, the rest of the group with the exception of Bill start to leave despite Mike begging them to just hear him out. Bill returns to Mike’s home at the Derry Library and under the influence of a drug induced hallucination he witnesses as ceremony performed by Native Americans called Ritual of Chud that can imprison and stop the creature for good.


Meanwhile Pennywise lures a child away from a baseball game and mercilessly kills her. Bill and Mike reunite with the rest of the gang at their hotel, and Mike explains that they need items from their past to sacrifice in the ritual, and they must split up to find those totems.


Agreeing to find the artefacts and try the ritual, the gang separate to find their totems, with each one having their own encounters with IT, mostly in the guise of the killer clown Pennywise.


With the lives of the children of Derry in the balance, the Losers must overcome their ultimate fears, and take the fight to the monster that has been stalking the town for countless centuries before it kills them all...


One of the major strengths of this film are the actors that were brought in to replace the child stars from the first film, with all of them somewhat resembling their younger selves. Plus there are some incredibly talented people before the camera that all give strong performances as the adults struggling to face the monster that hunted them as children. James McAvoy is always a highlight and even after 27 years still struggles with the guilt over his little brother’s death at the hands of Pennywise.


Bill Skarsgard is still terrifying as Pennywise, and his performance is once again a joy to watch as the twisting monstrosity that hunts in Derry. The way he lures in his victims, and the children who hear him whispering to them has not gotten any less creepy. He steals the scene whenever he is on screen, and is obviously enjoying portraying the effortlessly sinister Pennywise.


However, the film struggles when the monster is not Skarsgard and sadly one of the tropes mentioned above rears its head during the film, namely bad CGI effects. I have said it before and I’ll say it again. Bad CGI rips away any tension and in the case of one scene actually made me laugh out loud at how shoddy the effect looks. The scene involved Bev being attacked by a giant naked CGI old lady monster which is as lame as it sounds. The problem is that when an actress is portraying the woman her movements are unnerving, she twitches in the background or seems to zone out for no reason, and when there is just a voice in the darkness, it is scary, then this lumbering...thing...comes running at Bev and like I said it just made me laugh. So in one instant the tension that the rest of the sequence has been building up has been instantly lost due to a bad computer effect. This isn’t the only time in which the CGI breaks the tension, the creatures attacking the group at the restaurant are meant to be disturbing but are obviously poor CGHI creations, with the final sequence against Pennywise being another time when the effects are in full view, and whilst they are better they are still not great.


I am also not sure what tone the film is going for, because there are times in which things are creepy, and scary, with other times characters making jokes or making light of the situation they are in. The bully named Henry Bowers who was driven to murder his father by IT in 1986 has been institutionalised ever since, and breaks out to continue serving IT. He stabs Eddie in the cheek before he [Eddie] pulls the knife out and stabs Bowers with it, but then walks out of the bathroom with blood pouring down his face to tell the others that Bowers is in the bathroom. He doesn’t seem especially fazed by the fact he has just been stabbed nor that he may have just fatally stabbed someone else to death. This isn’t the only time that the tension the majority of the film is going for is broken with another being a sequence in which the group are attacked by Stan’s disembodied head that turns into a spider-like creature that is ripped straight from John Carpenter’s The Thing. The group are separated and whilst Pennywise is carving words into Ben’s stomach and about to cut his throat, the others are fighting the spider-thing which is again more comical than scary.


One of the other things that I struggle with for this instalment is the fact that none of the adults are armed in anyway. Children getting hold of a gun in the 1980s, that I imagine would have been some-what difficult, but even then they took the cattle-killing-gun-thing with them when they ventured to Pennywise’s lair. So why the chuffing hell haven’t any of the grown-up Losers thought to bring a gun with them?? There is nothing to assume that guns won’t work against the creature, and considering that you can buy guns at a shopping mall in America why don’t they go and buy some??


Plus what are the authorities doing about all these missing children? Why hasn’t anyone noticed that every 27 years the children of the town start inexplicably disappearing? Why is the town still functioning if a percentage of its young population get chomped every three decades? If the adults know that something is going on then why don’t they tell parents to watch their children more closely every 27th summer lest a monster try to carry them off? The guy that Pennywise kills after pulling him from the river is clearly in his twenties, so why was it okay to kill him, but normally IT favours children?? Was it because that guy had been wounded so couldn’t fight back?? Does IT therefore only target the weak?


There are so many unanswered questions which the film takes no time to answer, with one of the only ones being where IT came from. I won’t spoil that revelation but it is one that will just leave you shrugging your shoulders and going “okay, sure, why not”


Oh yeah, before I go on, I’ll just drop this...



One of the nagging things that was bugging me throughout the film was the ritual that Mike wants them to perform. In his hallucination Bill sees the container trapping the three lights (deadlights?) inside which seem to be the creature’s true form, but my question was: if IT was trapped in that container by the Native Americans who originally performed the ritual, then how did IT escape? Did someone let IT out? Was IT discovered when the town was being built and the vessel was disturbed?? The ending does explain this question but again the explanation just left me with this expression...



I also started to understand the bad ending trope that Stephen King’s stories are known for.


Okay, okay now let’s deal with the elephant in the room...


So the first film established that the Losers were about to drive Pennywise back because they stopped giving into their fear of him. Bill accepted that his brother was gone and the gang were able to escape with their lives. Strangely though, this film is about the adult Losers overcoming their fears so they can kill IT for good. But my question is: er...didn’t they know that already?? I don’t know about you if I had killed a terrifying clown-monster when I was barely old enough to be growing body hair, that is not the kind of thing that I would forget. I’m pretty sure I’d be using it as a chat up line or telling the story to anyone that would (and a few that wouldn’t) listen. Again a sequence when Bill is trying to save a boy in a mirror maze when Pennywise is hunting the child could have gone much smoother if Bill had told the kid to not be afraid. But he doesn’t. At the end of the film Eddie has the revelation that mocking the creature will cause it to literally shrink in size making it vulnerable. So the Losers proceed to shout at it, call it names, mock it, make fun of it, with it getting smaller and smaller until they literally rip its heart out killing it.



Yes you read that right.


They shout at it, mock it, call it names, basically attacking it’s self esteem until it is almost in a child-like form at which time they rip its heart out. So in effect they become IT’s bullies which enables them to stop it. So let me get this straight Stephen King, the titular monster of this novel, the terrifying monster clown Pennywise, a creature that you have said scares even you, can be defeated by taking the piss out of him???




I mean, what am I supposed to say to that??


Why has this thing been terrorizing Derry for centuries, if someone only has to tell it to fuck off, or take the piss out of its make-up or something to drive it away?? I guess you could say that you wouldn’t expect such a frightening monster to have such a weakness which is why no one has ever realised it before, but come take the piss out of it...



Sorry Stephen King, I don’t buy it.


That is such a shit explanation for how it is defeated and does not give the audience the pay off that we have waited for. The second film is almost 3 hours long and in the end, being mean to IT is the way IT is ultimately killed.


Honestly what more is there to add??


The only thing is my Thumb rating, there is a lot to enjoy about the film with the performances from the main cast being one of them. The story of the Losers returning to slay the monster that terrorised them as children, fine, fair enough. Unfortunately, we spend most of the time getting back to where we were at the end of the first film with the Losers needing to overcome their fears to kill the monster. Sadly the ending is just straight up bad with the defeat of Pennywise being in no way satisfying and memorable for all the wrong reasons. I can’t give the film a Thumbs Down because it is not bad but nor can I justify a Thumbs Up because whilst it has its moments the ending leaves a bad taste in the mouth, as a result the best I can do is leave my Thumb Horizontal.



6/10 - The first one was better mainly because the Losers are a group of children fighting against a terrifying monster that is trying to kill them. As a group of adults Pennywise just isn’t as scary anymore and you might be asking yourself why in a country that sold an estimated 400 million guns in 2016 not one of the Losers thought to bring one to Derry.


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© Chris Sharman