by Zach Smith-Michaels
I was never a fan of horror films growing up. Quite frankly, I didn’t understand why someone would want to go to the movies and be scared for an hour or two. That being said, I used to love roller coasters. I loved the thrill, the adrenaline, the terror, the...well...fun. As I’ve gotten older, I guess you could say that I’ve noticed a bit of a shift in my thrill seeking. Roller coasters are too much for me now as I get motion sick, and as a result no longer enjoy the thrill of riding. However, I now enjoy horror films...not every horror film, but a quite a few. Carrie, The Shining, and Evil Dead 2 rank among my favorites.
I was still pretty new to the horror genre when 2017 gave us It. I heard the announcements about the film and I was uninterested, but then I saw the trailer. This film looked big and cinematic. Then the reviews were in and people were saying that this film was an instant classic. I just had to see for myself. I walked into It expected the scariest movie ever, and that’s not what I got. What I saw was a coming of age story that wasn’t afraid to take it’s time. A film that was willing to slow down and take a deep breath before scaring the audience. I was expecting two hours of terror, instead I got a movie that the whole family can watch and enjoy. Family fun for everyone! Okay, clearly I’m joking. This is not a family film. Don’t say “Zach said my kids should watch this!“ I can’t believe it! I’m joking here.
So in 2017 when the credits rolled and I saw “IT Chapter One” I thought “Sign me up for round two!” It Chapter 2 couldn’t lose! People loved the first, and they wanted more. They announced the cast they dropped that trailer, and the general consensus was that this film was bound to be a grand slam! Was It Chapter 2 a grand slam? No. Was it a home run? Maybe. Should I stop making analogies about baseball and write my review? Probably.
It Chapter 2 has enough to enjoy. For one thing, this film has a stellar cast. Everyone is talking about Bill Hader’s excellent portrayal of Richie...and with good reason. He’s great! He brings the laughs, but he also brings the terror. I would go see this movie in theaters again just for his performance. I’m actually thinking about doing that. I’m not hearing a lot of people talk about McAvoy, but I thought that he gave a very well rounded performance. The best part of this movie is when you get the entire “Loser’s Club” together. This movie is almost unstoppable when you get this cast in the same room. I was really enjoying the first act of this film, but then the filmmakers made an interesting choice: They split everyone up. I’m sure this happens in the book, but I’m judging this as a film, and by the faithfulness of it’s adaptation.
When the Losers went their own ways this movie became quite stale, even though the horror was trying to ramp up. Speaking of, let’s talk about horror. When I left the theater, I thought “Man. That was a lot scarier than Chapter One.” After thinking about the scares, I realized something; I knew when every scare was coming. I kept holding my breath and anticipating the scares, and there are a lot of scares, but you can see all of them coming...because the film spends ten minutes with each individual Loser doing the EXACT SAME THING! Not ten minutes for all of them. Ten minutes PER LOSER! I would guess that this took up almost an hour! No spoilers, but we see each Loser go on their own journey, and the same thing happens to every single one of them! Beat for beat, the same formula each time, and it gets a little dry after a while! I’m not saying that this film didn’t scare me, but I called it every time during the second act. That being said, the first act had a truly terrifying scene in a Chinese restaurant, which is worth noting.
This film found footing again in the third act. The third act was everything that I wanted the movie to be. Non-stop thrills, action, horror, crazy stuff, maybe one too many 80’s references, but still a great ride. I also like the message of this movie which is driven home in the third act. When you stop being afraid of it, (whatever that it in your life is) it can no longer torment you. That’s a powerful message, and one worth sharing in 2019.
All of that being said, this film doesn’t quite stick the landing. This movie had a really solid ending, but then it went on for ten more minutes, and added nothing else. I also found the ending quite problematic which, if you see the movie, please send us a message because I would love to have a discussion about this. I’ll address this in a spoiler section below.
At the end of the day, if you like Chapter One, I think you’ll enjoy Chapter Two. IT: Chapter Two is well directed, filled with very good performances, and contains a good first and third act. I think that I enjoyed this film more than most, but I don’t think that this film will disappoint you too much. I doubt that anyone will like this more than the first, but that’s why we have discussions about film. I think that It: Chapter Two is pretty good. Not great, not awful, but pretty good. I encourage you to judge for yourself.
The ending of this film contains Stanley’s suicide note, but it was read as inspirational. I thought that this was a very poor decision. Stanley claims that he was too afraid to face his fears and so he took his life. I found this to be tragic in the context of the film, but when they read his suicide note at the end of the movie as the moral of the story...I don’t know. That really rubbed me the wrong way! I didn’t like that they chose to make Stanley’s final words before taking his life the uplifting message that everyone needed to hear. That really bothered me. Maybe you don’t agree, and that’s why I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.