Superfluous CGI takes the scream out of the scares in IT: Chapter Two

The marketing for psychological horror film IT Chapter Two began with a poster of two red balloons. If an image so simple is all you need to generate buzz and simultaneously strike fear into the hearts of thousands of eager horror fans, you can bet the film will have some pretty big shoes to fill. In this case, they’re clown-sized.

We catch up with the “Losers’ Club” first via a flashback to that time they defeated an evil shape-shifting child-eating clown known as Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård). 

bill hader, jessica chastain, james mcavoy, james ranson, jay ryan as "the losers club" in IT Chpter Two

For anybody who didn’t see or has forgotten the events of 2017’s IT Chapter One, we’re reminded that the outcast group of primary school friends made a blood oath to come back together to kill him if he ever reared his terrifyingly ugly face again.

Every 27 years he does exactly that, and despite the losers best efforts, he’s right on schedule.

Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), the home-schooled kid who was last to join the misfit bunch in the first film, is the only member of the club who was silly enough not to leave their horrifying hometown, Derry. 

He’s apparently spent the last 27 years living as a hermit beneath the library and researching what they’d need to do in the event of Pennywise’s return. So Mike wastes no time contacting Bill, Eddy, Stanley, Richie, Ben and Beverly to get the band back together and hold them all to a promise they made when they were 13.

bill hader, jessica chastain, james mcavoy, james ranson, jay ryan as "the losers club" in IT Chapter Two

They’re now all grown up and no longer losers by any definition. Bill (James McAvoy) has become a writer but is still blaming himself for the death of his younger brother. Beverly (Jessica Chastain) has sadly made the transition from abused daughter to abused wife.

Hot-headed risk-analyst Eddy (James Ransone), stand-up comic Richie (Bill Hader), happily married Stanley (Andy Bean) and a much better looking Ben (Jay Ryan) round out the group.

IT Chapter Two, which runs a tiring two hours and forty-five minutes, wastes a decent chunk of time covering the question of “Will they or won’t they team up?” when we all know it can only end one way. 

bill skarsgard as pennywise in IT Chapter Two

The script is then further convoluted by a path that involves tribal rituals being the key to bringing down Pennywise once and for all and sets the characters down a path of returning to places they visited during their first life-scarring summer together.

The film introduces new scenes of that first summer that weren’t part of IT Chapter One, which adds more depth to each of the characters and the fears they hold, which  Pennywise, of course, preys on. Then it jumps back to present day where they are again terrorized. 

It works but is very repetitive. By the time it gets to the last character’s individual torturing you’ll be well and truly ready for them to team up.

After all, it’s the group’s chemistry that is one of IT Chapter Two‘s greatest strengths. The film has been impeccably cast and though the friends haven’t seen each other in decades, the solid cast does a superb job of reviving their friendships and allowing the group to pick up where it left off, taking on a demonic clown. 

bill hader, jessica chastain, james mcavoy, james ranson, jay ryan as "the losers club" in IT

The premise is terrifying, but is the film? It certainly delivers a few jump scares and there’s also some very OTT gore, which gets a couple of laughs but mostly it uses CGI to create its unimaginable horrors. Many of which you might want to look away from if you don’t want to go to bed dreaming about them. 

The film’s length and the sheer volume of computerized characters almost desensitizes you to the horror by its end. That said, IT Chapter Two is never without ample tension and you’ll be questioning where the next scare will come from almost until the credits roll. 

Pennywise clown

Amazingly though, given such a long running-time, the film finishes without tying up a few loose ends, however perhaps they plan to tie them off in the next instalment.

IT Chapter Two suffers at the hand of all the hype that precedes it. In large part due to the incredible performances of both the young and old cast members, the sequel isn’t a complete disappointment, but it still feels like there’s a pared-back yet scarier version of this film stuck in a drain somewhere.

SEE IT if…

You like Stephen King stories 

Or

You can handle sustained scares

SKIP IT if…

You’re prone to nightmares 

Or

You’re likely to roll your eyes after the 3rd CGI monster

It gets 3 stars out of 5.

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