Part of this post is sponsored by 4DX Cinemas. With poignancy and heart on its side, 2017’s IT managed to avoid its occasional flaws to become an unnerving addition to the horror genre. While the film could never be classed as outright terrifying, the character of Pennywise, portrayed exceptionally by Bill Skarsgard, is an unsettling antagonist and one of the best in film.
Two years later, the town of Derry is back on the big screen in Andy Muschietti’s epic conclusion. But at nearly 3 hours long, is IT: Chapter Two just a bloated mess, or does it float to new heights?
Defeated by members of the Losers’ Club, the evil clown Pennywise returns 27 years later to terrorise the town of Derry, Maine, once again. Now adults, the childhood friends have long since gone their separate ways. But when people start disappearing, Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) calls the others home for one final stand. Damaged by scars from the past, the united Losers must conquer their deepest fears to destroy the shape-shifting Pennywise – who is now more powerful than ever.
The film follows many of the same tropes as its predecessor, with beautiful cinematography and excellent performances masking some shoddy CGI and an over-reliance on jump scares, and while it does lack the simplicity and tightly-wound script of its predecessor, IT: Chapter Two is even more unsettling.
For director Andy Muschietti, it’s clear that the training wheels are off. After being guided through the process by Warner Bros. first time around, the success of IT (it grossed over $700million worldwide) now means he’s been free to splash his creative vision all over the screen – and it shows. A deeply disconcerting opening involving two of Derry’s LGBT community and some town bigots lets the audience know early on that this is going to be even darker and much more graphic than its predecessor.
From a casting point of view, they couldn’t have done better. Each adult version of the Loser’s Club nicely embodies their child counterpart, even if we spend more time with some than others. James McAvoy is as reliable as ever and Jessica Chastain plays Beverly nicely but it’s in Bill Hader and James Ransome that we find the perfect embodiments of their juvenile characters.
Hader and Ransome share the same chemistry that made Eddie and Richie so watchable in the first instalment and there is even some well-judged poignancy to go with their playful teasing. The Chinese restaurant scene, a fan favourite from the book and the TV mini-series, is present and correct and remains a highlight over the course of the running time.
IT: Chapter Two is a confident finale to one of 2017’s best films; filled with exceptional performances
Praise must be given to the scriptwriters here as ensembles of this size can all too often get lost with little character development. Thankfully, each cast member feels fully fleshed out, meaning we care for them a lot more than your typical horror-movie character.
However, this is Bill Skarsgard’s film and Pennywise is as menacing as ever. Skarsgard turns up the ante here with his physical performance being absolutely incredible. This portrayal is Heath Ledger Joker levels of good. It would be a shame if he wasn’t recognised officially for the exceptional work he has done to bring this wretched character to life.
While much of the film sees the Loser’s Club separate from each other as they try to locate tokens from their pasts, this allows the production team to create some truly staggering set pieces – although it’s unfortunate that many of them have been spoilt in the trailers. The much-marketed house of mirrors scene is brief but leaves a lasting impression and there’s a sequence early on involving a small girl that was really troubling.
Unfortunately, it’s not all good news. While the pacing for such a long film is spot on, the appearances of our titular character are not. Despite being billed as appearing more often, the movie’s gargantuan length means that Pennywise doesn’t feel like he’s on screen for any longer than in the first instalment. With such a great character and performance, it would have been nice to see him a little more.
And while you’ll have noticed me using adjectives like ‘unsettling’ and ‘unnerving’, the film isn’t truly scary unless Pennywise in clown form is on the screen. That’s mainly down to some of the CGI used to create the monsters. As in its predecessor, IT: Chapter Two’s monsters feel too glossy, lacking in any true sense of realism.
Nevertheless, IT: Chapter Two is a confident finale to one of 2017’s best films; filled with exceptional performances and the wit and humour that made its predecessor such a hit. While not reaching quite the same dizzy heights as that film and relying even more on jump scares, as a pair, it’s hard to think of a horror series that has made its mark in the last decade quite as much as IT.
:star: :star: :star: :star:
IT: Chapter Two in 4DX
I was unsure how a horror film would translate to 4DX but the good news is that the experience became even more immersive, with sight, smell and feel all being utilised to great effect.
Soaring over Derry, the advanced seating that 4DX provides means that you feel like you’re flying over the town too. Of course, while this is a pleasant experience when the film is playing nicely, as soon as the horror hits, 4DX jolts you back to reality with some well-timed movement, strobe lighting and weather effects.
A nice touch in this film was the use of smell, something not utilised in Hobbs & Shaw. Every time Pennywise was about to appear on screen, a sweet aroma would fill the cinema, lulling you into a false sense of security. It was a nice effect that added to the drama of the film beautifully.
Naturally, being a horror film, rain was utilised a lot and having the spray nozzle behind your seat was great. Although you are able to turn it off if you so wish, having the weather effects left on meant that you became immersed in what was happening on screen.
This was my first experience of 4D cinema utilised in a horror film and the overall impact was one that added to the terror rather than detracted from it. I would highly recommend viewing IT: Chapter Two in 4DX, and you can book tickets at 19 Cineworld locations across the UK.
Want more clowns? Check out our picks for the best movie clowns.