Designed with canva.com; IT movie poster from IMDB.com
WARNING: While there are no actual spoilers ahead, there ARE very strong opinions that may sway your perception of the film if you haven’t seen it yet. Proceed with caution.
The follow up to most movies, TV shows, or books often end up not as good as the original. There’s a freshness and authenticity in the first of something that makes it difficult for a sequel to hold up. Not knowing much going in to it lessens the expectations therefore it’s harder to be disappointed. When going into the sequel to a film, the expectations are always higher based on the success of the first movie, the knowledge of where the movie is going, and the hype that is built around the film as the epic next chapter or epic conclusion to where the story began. This may not be true for ALL sequels, but it was certainly true for IT: Chapter Two.
It appears the pressure to please audiences got the better of the producers and writers of this movie. Where audiences went into the first movie blind, putting aside those who had read the book or seen the original movies from the 90’s, this movie had preset expectations based on the tone and character developments of the first.
Speaking of the character developments, that is where this movie SHINES. The cast that takes over as the adult versions of the kids from the first film are incredible. They not only look alarmingly like actual adult versions of the kids, but they also clearly did all they could to work with the kids to develop the characters based on the original performances. It’s amazing how accurate a representation these actors were for these characters. The relationships between them felt authentic and powerful.
On the other hand, regarding the tone, the movie kind of missed the mark. What was extremely well-balanced in the first movie was now off-kilter and messy in the sequel. The first movie was held in high regard for its ability to balance the humor, heart, and horror in such a perfect way. It felt more like a scary coming of age film than an actual horror film, which is what the movie should be. But without the constant natural charm of the kids providing a lot of the heart, they opted to lean heavily into the humor to keep audiences invested. It didn’t work. Many times, there were moments that had me almost scared that would suddenly get undercut but ANOTHER Richie Tozier one-liner and it would ruin the moment. Don’t get me wrong, I love Richie, and his humor is the best thing about his character, but I wanted to feel the terror and turmoil. It just felt like every time I was close to feeling the fear Trash Mouth got in the way.
Maybe they did that intentionally because of the lack of truly scary moments in this film. Anything that should have been scary was inundated with such unbelievable CGI that the horrific visions conjured by Pennywise were more laughable than fear inducing. Which also begs the question, what really makes Pennywise scary? Is it the conjuring of your deepest fears or the representation of his Clown persona? This movie took away both of those elements of fear with the overly cheesy CGI and by not giving Pennywise quite enough screen time as his scary clown self.
Ultimately, while still enjoyable, the film was sprawling and disjointed, making it an overall off-putting experience. A lot of people have been complaining about how weird it was with the direction it took into Pennywise’s background. As someone who has read the entire book, I can say that was NOT the film’s biggest problem. With all the details, content, side plots, and backstories in that book, it could have been a lot stranger. So, from someone’s point of view who hasn’t read the book, it was bad because it was odd. For someone who has, it goes deeper than it just being strange. Balancing theme and tone in a movie can be extremely hard, especially when trying to adapt it from source material, and unfortunately the balanced tipped way off the scales into oblivion for this one.