It’s that time of the year again. Time to float and to be deathly afraid of clowns and red balloons.
It: Chapter Two is here to terrify Malaysians after the first film was released back in 2017.
Again directed by Andrés Muschietti, this film depicts the latter part of Stephen King’s novel where the protagonists are now adults, though there are flashbacks to their childhood sprinkled throughout the film.
In the first film, the Losers Club of Derry, Maine successfully forced the sadistic, child-devouring Eldritch abomination guised as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, also known as “It”, to beat a hasty retreat.
27 years later, the creature returns, hungry for flesh and craving for revenge.
Honouring their oath to reunite should It ever make its return, the Losers Club, now all adults, get together to defeat the monster once and for all.
The first film received praise from both critics and the audience, with Bill Skarsgård’s terrifying performance as Pennywise the Dancing Clown being lauded and the child actors’ performance being surprisingly solid.
Hence, It: Chapter Two has quite a tough act to follow. Does it hold up? Well, in all honesty, it all boils down to personal preference and what your expectations are.
From a technical perspective, the film works, especially with well-executed transition shots, but it is the cast’s strong performance that make this film a good watch.
Concerns that the adult actors will not be able to represent their child counterparts are unfounded as the lead actors not only look like their younger selves, but also act like them too.
Bill Hader, who plays foul-mouthed Richie is the spitting image of Finn Wolfhard while the mannerisms of the perpetually nervous Eddie, previously played by Jack Dylan Grazer, are well reflected in James Ransone’s acting.
The rest of the cast which include James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Jay Ryan and Isaiah Mustafa, display superb acting throughout the film.
Bill Skarsgård lets his talent shine as he prances about as the malicious Pennywise, with his contorted facial expressions often dipping into creepy uncanny valley territory.
His off-centre eyes, huge forehead, bizarre hair and constantly drooling maw rightly make you realise that behind this clown is something that is not even close to being human.
Pennywise is scary but he’s no fool
While you might rightfully think that no sane child would be drawn to such a frightening clown, a tense scene in this movie shows that Pennywise is no fool and is open to using emotional manipulation to lure his young victims.
While the body count of this film is substantial, the goriness has been surprisingly left in by the censorship board.
Do look out for Stephen King’s brilliant cameo, in which he quite comically engages in an act of mocking self-depreciation.
This film bears the hallmark of King’s works; being a character-based film with some startling scares thrown in.
Hardcore horror fans might not be fazed by the scares in this film, and tense horror scenes are sometimes interrupted by unwarranted comedic moments.
In a particularly jarring moment, a scene meant to invoke disgust and horror suddenly gives way to five seconds of Juice Newton’s “Angel of the Morning” in an out-of-place manner.
Tonal problems also bring this film’s rating down by quite a bit, since it is a little confusing to be crying out in terror one moment and then chuckling in the next.
Other than such awkward moments, Skarsgård is petrifying as Pennywise, the CGI monsters that pop up throughout the film do not hold a candle to the practical effects applied to the evil clown.
Some sub plots feel tacked on, with the reappearance of the lunatic Henry Bowers being a particularly notable offender, as Bowers has little effect on the overall flow of the story.
The film appears longer than it should be, and the middle part feels like it is included to pad out the story.
However, this may not be a fault of the movie as even the novel has parts depicting the Losers’ childhood, not their adulthood, that is the heart of the story.
Some comedic moments work to great effect
And the aforementioned comedic moments can sometimes actually work to great effect when they are delivered at the appropriate moment.
Be prepared to chuckle when a character, despite being seriously wounded, reacts and retorts in an unintentionally hilarious manner while remaining completely in character.
Overall, for all its faults, this movie deserves recognition for being part of a worthy adaptation of King’s novel and it still serves some decent scares for thrill seekers.
Strong performances from the cast make watching this film worthwhile and by the time you walk out of the theatre, you will feel like you are floating in the air after such a good time in the cinema.
Wait. Floating? Oh, no!