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Film Review: IT Chapter Two

12 September 19 words: Ben Lawrence

Lifelong coulrophobia wasn't enough to stop Ben Lawrence checking out IT Chapter Two...

 

Director: Andy Muschiette

Starring: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader

Running time: 169 mins

I was six years old when I realised clowns were terrifying. Having attended the birthday party of a friend, I watched in terror as a visibly drunk man stumbled out the back of the van and fell face down in the mud. As he slowly pulled himself up, we got to see that he was wearing an oversized white smock, ripped blue jeans, and hastily applied red and white make up over a 12-clock shadow. The man in the strange paint then preceded to get some items out of his van and perform a magic trick in which he pretended to mutilate his own hand. As what looked like a real thumb dropped onto the ground, blood spurted out of the hole, cascading into the face of a little girl in the front row, who promptly began to cry - setting off a domino effect of tears for the rest of us. 

With this in mind, I was very hesitant to review IT Chapter Two. For those of you out of the loop, IT - the film adaptation of Stephen King's book - is about a psychotic clown monster who feeds off the fear of children before eating them. I had the foolish idea that watching it would be good for me, and help me overcome my childhood abandonment issues and fears of creepy middle aged men dressed as clowns. If you're yet to watch Chapter One, then I'd suggest checking it out before reading on... 

There’s nothing more terrifying than someone knowing all your fears and insecurities, especially if this person happens to be an undead clown demon

Chapter Two joins the 'Losers Club' 27 years after overcoming bullies, small-town mentalities and fighting a demonic creepy monster called Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård). The grownup versions of the characters, despite being childhood losers, are all now ridiculously successful and hot. The leader of the original gang Bill (McAvoy) is a successful writer and script advisor; Beverly (Chastain) has escaped her abusive father only to marry an equally abusive husband; Ben (Jay Ryan) is still lonely and pining after Beverly, but he’s rich now and has abs so, you know, yay? Eddie (James Ransone) is doing something with cars and looks like he’s married his own mother; Richie (Hader) is a successful comedian and Stan, well, his situation is too heart-breaking to trivialise with words, so I’ll just let you watch that for yourself. Only Mike has stayed in Derry, while everyone was forgetting their promise to fight Pennywise if he ever returned.

The film really starts kicking when Pennywise starts turning himself into some weird ass stuff. Don’t get me wrong, seeing a demon clown turn itself into a giant zombie leper is terrifying, but you can start to predict the jump scares about halfway through the film, making it easier to stop watching through your fingers. The terrifying aspect of the character of Pennywise  isn’t so much the physical stuff, but how much he preys on the emotional fears of the gang; using Ben’s loneliness and isolation, as well as Bill’s belief that if he had been a better big brother then Georgie would not have died in the first film. There’s nothing more terrifying than someone knowing all your fears and insecurities, especially if this person happens to be an undead clown demon.

Having Googled some other reviews of Chapter Two, the general critical feeling seems harshly negative. Making any film is hard and, while it may have had fewer laughs and a bit less charm than the original, I think it was pretty good overall. 

Did you know? Stephen King, the original author of IT, has a cameo as a pawn shop owner

IT Chapter Two is in cinemas now

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