“DIVINE” DEREK VIGEANT: The fact that IT falls into the horror genre means that if the audience isn’t squirming in their seats and feeling their pulse elevated to a more uncomfortable level, the storytellers haven’t done their job correctly. The character of Pennywise has a variety of abilities to create scenarios for our lovable Losers Club; thus, undoubtedly, questioning their own sanity, having to constantly battle with their psyches on what is real in front of their eyes– or more elaborate illusions being made to make them crack…
(cont…) With Chapter Two being a sequel and our kids club now grown into full adults, the scares have to be escalated as well. And Director Andy Muschietti didn’t miss his chance to bring on the terror. Most of the instances in this film are not your usual “jump scares” like a Nightmare on Elm St. franchise; Muschietti has gone more than simply bringing out the monsters that we all have in our nightmares. There is still the dark, empty corridors and haunting stillness of the characters visiting old memories in the town of Derry, but “it” still creates the fear that Pennywise feeds off its full throttle and reaches for your face with long, outstretched arms.
“BROTHER” MYKE LADIONA: While I wholeheartedly agree about the chillingly effective horror elements, my fellow podcast brother, they wouldn’t be worth much without decent narrative and technical context. Fortunately writer Gary Dauberman and director Muschietti have that in stride. Any cognitive dissonance that could have happened due to a two year gap, and new actors was skillfully avoided. It only takes a few minutes to be reintroduced to our heroes and thanks to the amazing, spot on performances given by the cast — and the always unsung casting director — we as an audience care right away.
DEREK: These aren’t sluggish zombies from the Walking Dead but more their steroid-enhanced brothers and sisters whom aren’t crawling to fill you with a slow dread but more chasing you down with an intensity that has everyone running for their lives. Because of this the typical two-second scares have been upgraded to actual longer sequences that bring a heightened tension to your body you are totally unaware of until afterwards. With there being so many members of the Losers Club for Pennywise to put his individual efforts into the continual barrage can work the nerves of any veteran horror fan.
MYKE: Muschietti only support that element, Derek, by being so consistent with the tone of the first IT (2017) while Dauberman effectively jumped back and forth between the two time periods in the lives of our heroes. None of the flashbacks ever felt like just exposition either. Most of the longer glimpses into the past showed events that were never shown to us in Chapter One, and were able to be used to focus on the themes of memory and being honest with yourself that was more of the focus in this chapter.
DEREK: Well, Myke, it helps that this Losers Club is made up of actual characters we care about. Otherwise, everyone would crown Pennywise the demon victor. None of the characters have been given any level of sainthood in the past 27 years; they are still relatable folks with flaws just like everyone else. They have the right level of awkwardness from not being in contact for so long, and keep the strong bond of friendship with few signs of animosity. Even though they return to Derry to deal with the threat of Pennywise, the script makes sure we get several instances of the group reminiscing about the past, including flashbacks using the younger actors from the previous film. The one that stood out to me the most? While finding their old clubhouse, going over items inside, we are shown the unity they had that is familiar to anyone who had a core group of friends from growing up.
MYKE: The character work is essential, but any real missed opportunity came in the pacing of the beginning and ends of the movie. The movie is quick to get our heroes introduced and even reunited, as it needed to — considering all the work that needed to be done and the natural excitement that a proper continuation to a story would have and yet in hindsight. By the end of the movie, you kind of wish you got to know our adult Losers a little more in this time period. This is only exacerbated by the slight stall the ending has. On one hand, covered in clown makeup, it gives ample time for the audience to “come down” after the wild ride they just went on, yet on the other the slight absences of development make its ending a little bloated and the ‘gravity’ its been given a little unearned. This gives it the ‘Lord of the Rings: Return of the King’ effect of seeming like it could have ended three different times to anyone who isn’t as invested as a die hard would be.
DEREK: Two of the actors that have to be mentioned: Jessica Chastain (Beverly), who, being the only woman in a boys club, is still used equally and isn’t seen as being as less of a factor in being able to hold her own to take down Pennywise. In fact, Beverly might have the hardest past issues to overcome from dealing with her abusive father. The second and most likely will be the favorite on many viewers list will be Bill Hader (Richie). From the beginning he is the most distant and the one who resists staying to join the fight. But as the story continues, Richie takes his time in using this opportunity to deal with all the emotional baggage still had from his childhood in Derry. With all the scary and traumatic drama to be brought on by Pennywise, somehow Hader finds a way to use his comedic timing and bring levity to situations without obviously looking for the audience to applaud his efforts. He just does it because it’s who Richie is.
MYKE: Nicely put. Larger arc problems aside, the minute-to-minute pacing of the movie for the most part is very spot on and each moment is given its own thrilling surprise — whether it’s through character interaction or horror set piece. These surprises aren’t just the jump scares, or the monster encounters, it’s also in the moments of stylistic flair visually and technically. IT 2 has a good amount of in-camera showmanship with the shots and how the film seamlessly transitions from coming-of-age drama to horror, from our world to Pennywise’s, from sadness to fear. Other times specific cuts are used to a thrillingly beautiful effect – especially in a headlining fun house mirror scene that kind of immediately puts it in the top three fun house mirror scenes in horror movies, or Enter the Dragon, to date. Similarly in the Halloween cinematic Haunted Maze finale these clever camera movements and edits serve the frantic tone of the climax very well, and is a good main entree to the entire dish. This sequel leans heavier into how ‘out of this world and dimension’ Pennywise is now that we’ve kind of seem the beginnings of his true form and we’re skillfully guided in and out of these moments.
DEREK: While the film does have a long runtime I rarely felt it and it seems necessary to properly give us time for setup, character development, and one hell of a third act conclusion. The film takes me back to when I grew up with my friends in high school and what a special time that was, but also gives us a fantastic time of watching a simple tale of good vs. evil. One where the villain is a supernatural force; a thrilling foe so much more than one simply walking around with a mask and a knife. Sure, there are a couple of little things I could nitpick about but they’re so insignificant there isn’t much of a point. I don’t know if I’ll find the time to watch it again but I sure hope to. 4.5/5 Bibles.
MYKE: IT: Chapter Two isn’t going to justify itself for anyone who wasn’t a fan of the first installment, but for the rest of the huge flock of fans it was able to attract it successfully sticks the landing. It never tries to be more than what the first one but in many ways it does well at what it is — a timeless fantasy horror adventure with big archetypes and classic storytelling. Unfortunately some of it feels dated in what it’s trying to do thematically in its broadness, to no fault of its own, but rather the generations of stories created with IT’s source material, and to a greater extent Stphen King’s entire oeuvre, as inspiration. Still if you choose to remember, like our protagonists had to remember what it was like when you were growing up – before our collective witnessing of a post IT, Stand By Me, etc cultural explosion, then you’ll remember what really works about big, universal genre-tales and how they float too. 4.25/5 Luftballoons.
-Derek Vigeant & Myke Ladiona, The Geekdom Fancast