Watching It: Chapter Two proved to be a very interesting experience for me. Let me start at the end.
As the credits commenced, the first words uttered from my mouth were, “I preferred the first one.” My moviegoing partner simply nodded in agreement.
Nearly two weeks later, I stand by this assessment. Chief among them is that “Its” predecessor had a wonderful nostalgia assigned to it. The setting and the kids’ performances were unexpected and refreshing. That said, I do remember that at the time, while I was looking forward to the sequel, I did have some trepidation about the second half of the epic Stephen King adaptation.
Recently, I more or less provided my summary thoughts on It: Chapter Two on Twitter; I encourage you all to check out the attached video –
To expound on this a bit further, I thought it might be a good idea to jot some of the things I enjoyed as well as the things that were not as effective in this sequel.
The performances. By and large all of the adults did a good job of channeling their younger alter egos (who were equally as entertaining).
The humor. This of course ties directly to the above. Many sequences of objectively terrifying situations were diffused by a lighter, more humorous moment. Even when these moments teetered on diffusing the tension a little too much, the delivery was effective enough to make the experience enjoyable enough.
The “Pre-title” Sequence. While not wholly connected to what happens to our main characters during the film, the opening is a well executed story onto itself that packs a bit of a punch (unintended pun). This scene did just enough to establish and lay some groundwork for later on. In one interpretation, it also provides some commentary that makes the audience question what are the true horrors in our world.
What Did Not Work
The runtime. I hate to admit it, but I did the dreaded “watch check” with about an hour to go. In short, the film could have done with another couple of rounds of edits. In my mind, the filmmakers probably thought it would be a great idea to give audiences the best of both worlds – pull in the kids from Chapter One since we really enjoyed them, while also putting their talented adult cast in the spotlight. It just felt a bit baggy.
The scary bits just did not have the same impact the second time around. The terror inflicted on the poor children of Derry is more palpable for an audience member when inflicted on … children. Sure, part of “the curse” inflicted on the adults in the film is that they do not immediately recall the trauma they experienced over a quarter of a century ago. But still, an adult response is not a child’s response. And as a result, felt less scary to me.
Jump scares for the sake of it. Yes I know – it is the thing now in contemporary horror films. Build the tension, build the tension, pause to disarm your audience and then BOOM! – frighten the socks off of them. While this convention can keep your viewers on their toes, it personally leaves me feeling “meh” after the initial jolt. Which is a shame really, because there are echoes in It: Chapter Two that if mined a bit further, would definitely register as lasting terrifying moments. Instead, after seeing It: Chapter Two, I was able to have a pretty darn good and uninterrupted sleep.
As has been stated elsewhere, I really do think that the producers of the It saga were caught off guard by the mainstream commercial and critical success of the first chapter. The result is the creation of a bloated sequel which attempts to capitalize on that success. What was left as a result is a little satisfying, but ultimately underwhelming.
Let me know what you think … hit the comments section below.