The horror has returned to Derry and that dancing clown is on the loose again as director Andy Muschietti returns to the big screen with It: Chapter Two and readies to complete the second part of his horror opus….and it’s one very scary ride.
Twenty-seven years after the Losers Club defeated Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård), IT returns to terrorize the town of Derry once more. Now, adults, the Losers have long since gone their separate ways. However, the kids are disappearing again, so Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), the only one of the group to remain in their hometown, calls the others home. Damaged by the experiences of their past, they must each conquer their deepest fears to destroy Pennywise once and for all… putting them directly in the path of the clown that has become deadlier than ever.
Picking up where he left off Muschietti, leads audiences back to the so-called idyllic town of Derry, Maine, which harbours an incredibly dark secret and the resulting film will certainly make you jump. Swapping childlike innocence for grown-up problems, Muschietti continues the story of The Losers and their destiny to battle the evil that is Pennywise. With an intimate knowledge of his subject matter, and a grand vision guiding his directorial hand, Muschietti realizes an incredibly beautiful, rich and scary film that is shaped with a Spielbergian eye and tests and challenges its audience. Thanks to Muschietti you never know what kind of fright is awaiting around the next corner and the director does a terrific job of keeping his audience on edge.
Returning to Derry 27 years later are the Losers Club and a fantastic group of performers have come together to realize this second part of the It saga. Taking on the role of Bill Denbrough is James McAvoy and the noted thespian does a terrific job of channeling a heroic desire to save those around him. McAvoy is also fantastic in reliving the past guilt that has shaped his character and his performance is extremely natural and realistic here. Standing next to McAvoy is Jessica Chastain as Beverly Marsh and it’s a thoroughly transformative part for Chastain to play. Still gripped by the trauma of her youth, Chastain’s Beverly is a woman who continues to suffer through her private horrors, but who has the strength to battle through it. Bev’s a fighter and she’s not about to give up on herself, her friends or her hometown this time.
Sliding into the role of the foul-mouthed Richie Tozier is the one and only Bill Hader and this role is a perfect fit for Hader’s unfiltered antics. Hader runs riot here and his performance is gripped by plenty of off the cuff hilarious moments that are sure to get audiences going. But don’t worry the horror is still very real for Richie and Hader amplifies the terror here. Adding some new found hunkiness to The Losers is rising New Zealand star Jay Ryan as Ben Hanscom, and the past still haunts this now successful architect. Ryan is again a very natural performer here and he does a terrific job of portraying a man who realises he needs to step up in his friend’s hour of need. With perfect leading man looks and great sensitivity, Ryan makes a great impression on audiences in It: Chapter Two.
Giving the film its earnestness is James Ransone as Eddie Kaspbra, a hypochondriac who gives the film plenty of off-beat comedy and is a perfect foil for Hader’s antics. Ransome is great at being the odd man out and the one who’s trying to stay away from the dark corners. And as the small-town kid who never left Isaiah Mustafa brings a terrific sense of knowledge and experience in the role of Mike Hanlon, and he invests in the character heavily. Consumed by a haunting obsession to stop Pennywise at all costs, Mustafa’s Mike is a fantastic presence within the film and his character has plenty of surprises for the audience here.
Finally, providing The Losers with all the terror that they could handle is the one and only Bill Skarsgard who returns as Pennywise and he’s got plenty of horrific scares on hand here. As a performer, Skarsgard is completely method in his presence and his mad acting talents lead to plenty of gnarly moments up on the big screen. With the focus of It: Chapter Two wrapped around the return of The Losers, Skarsgard’s presence as Pennywise returns to effect them individually as this diabolical clown haunts them in their own unique way….and there are some serious frights going on here.
Muschietti is incredibly inventive when it comes to the horror of It: Chapter Two and he’s upped the artistry that he brings to the scares here. With a focus on his character’s fear creating the horrors of the film, Muschietti and his team get inventive and the resulting monsters certainly make you jump. The horror serves both to scare the hell out of the audience, but also to move the narrative forward. Driven by Pennywise’s creepy imagination, the horror has a playfulness to it, and while undeniably creepy, there’s plenty of amazing artistry involved in the creation of it. If I had to choose some moments that seriously creeped me out then it would be The Losers reunion dinner upon their return to Derry which gets frighteningly messes up along with Beverly’s confrontation with Mrs Kersh at her childhood home
It: Chapter Two is packed out with an incredibly beautiful style and builds upon the look of the previous film with a sense of high sheen nostalgia. Muschietti’s approach to the film is Spielbergian in nature and he captures that classic adventure tale of a group of individuals who set off to accomplish some impossible task. The director knows how to draw his audience into his film and through deliberate camera work and a very innovative use of music, Muschietti toys with his audience at every turn and sets them off guard as to the horrors that are waiting for them. The film’s style and tone keeps you on your feet as an audience member and It: Chapter Two is a cinematic rush that does not let up for a moment.
Alongside a very good serving of horror, It: Chapter Two is a film that is bound by strong themes of memory, nostalgia, trauma and friendship. Through his narrative, Muschietti is able to examine how the past shapes us into who we are and that by letting ourselves be aware of our own memories we can either be held back by it, or let it shape the good things that remain in our lives. The power of friendship also has an incredibly important part to play in the film’s story and Muschietti shows how that together we are stronger than any individual power, and that the number of many can overcome any kind of darkness through the love, loyalty and trust of those whom we call our friends.
From beginning to end, It: Chapter Two is one hell of a rush and there are plenty of scares to get you going here. This is big-budget horror on a blockbuster level and if you’re seeking that horror moment that will make you scream, well, you’ll find it here!
Image: Roadshow Films