By Olivia Ritter
Like a good horror movie fan, I made sure to get out this weekend to see “It Chapter Two,” the second, and hopefully last, movie adaptation of Stephen King’s horror novel classic, “It.” The movie made its debut this last Friday, Sept. 6. I watched the first chapter, “It,” which came out in 2017, on HBO GO, cuddled up in my bed with some friends. I had high expectations for seeing “Chapter Two” in a theater. Those expectations were not met.
Sure, I haven’t seen the original “It” that came out in 1990 and, sure, I haven’t read the book. But, I know a thing or two about horror movies. This was not a horror movie. It was confused and weird.
Let’s break it down. The movie takes place 27 years after the Losers Club fight Pennywise, the child-eating, monster, shape-shifting clown, back into hiding. These heroic preteens take an oath to come back to their hometown of Derry if Pennywise ever returns and starts eating kids again.
Well, sure enough, in what seems like current day Derry, Pennywise eats someone and the alarms go off. By alarms, I mean Mike, the only member of the Losers Club that remained in Derry, called everyone and told them it was time to “come home.” Here’s the thing: they all forgot. They forgot the time a monster clown almost killed them before they exiled him. They just forgot. Now, of course, they are all successful and attractive and have no PTSD whatsoever from the actual horrors we saw in the first movie.
We have Billy, the catalyst of it all, the one who lost his little brother, Georgie, to Pennywise. From the brave, stuttering kid, he became a successful screenwriter, married to an actress who is kind of a diva. Then we have Richie, the foul-mouthed, big-glasses-wearing kid who made a joke out of the whole killer clown situation (spoiler: nothing changed, but when it’s an adult it’s less funny) who became a widely-known stand-up comedian.
Then there’s Eddie, the the germophobic hypochondriac who became a seemingly wealthy risk analyst in New York, married to a heavyset woman, similar to his mother. Stanley is there, too, but nothing has changed. His wife books a trip to Buenos Aires. Then, he kills himself after getting Mike’s call. That’s his whole character arc. (I’m still confused). Then there’s Beverly, the pretty girl with daddy issues, who is also still pretty and married to a rich guy, who, you’ll never guess, abuses her. But, last but not least, Ben, the fat kid who was adopted into the Losers Club. He is now extremely attractive and owns his own architecture firm. Of course.
Now, all these weirdly attractive adults that should be really messed up from almost being killed by a clown but aren’t because they forgot, show up to Derry. All-knowing Mike explains they forgot about the events that happened 27 years ago because they moved away. He remembered because he stayed. Yup, just like that.
Since Pennywise has returned, they start getting messed with right off the bat. But, here’s where I started getting disappointed by the movie. At this Chinese restaurant, weird, tiny creatures come crawling out of the fortune cookies. I’m talking about a baby’s head attracted to a spider. I understand that Pennywise has the power to make them see weird things that aren’t there, but why is it something so corny?
Now, of course, the gang starts doubting the whole mission and they turn to leave. All except Billy, who hears Mike out. But then, Mike drugs Billy so that he can tell Billy about the Native American tribe that drove Pennywise out once before by doing a ritual. Yes, a ritual. This ritual requires “tokens” of the kids’ past. What these tokens are, who knows? How do they know the tokens are tokens, also, who knows? But, they all go on their individually horrifying quests to get their “tokens.” Here’s where things get corny and not-very-well-done.
All of their “tokens” involve some memory of the past, you know, from the first time they were harassed by an evil clown. But, these memories never happened in the first movie. As a viewer, I was wildly confused about whether or not I was supposed to know these things.
For instance, Richie’s token was an actual token from the arcade he went to as a kid. His flashback showed him playing against another boy. It was heavily implied that Richie is crushing on this boy. Of course, the town bully storms the building and starts calling Richie a “fairy” and the like. Richie runs from the arcade and sits in front of the gigantic statue of Paul Bunyon. Don’t worry, Paul Bunyon comes alive and starts violently chasing Richie. Again, it just really doesn’t make sense. Especially the part where Richie might be gay.
The Losers eventually come back together to perform the magical ritual. Armed with their tokens that we, as viewers, don’t completely understand the significance of, they go to Pennywise’s super secret hideout. This is about two hours into the movie, so it could easily be over. But, the gang does the ritual and, surprise surprise, it didn’t work! Pennywise emerges from the weird lights and becomes a clown spider! (I don’t even know how else to describe what he turns into).
I’ll spare you the details of their failed attempts at killing Pennywise, the weird sexual tension between Beverly and Ben during the fight and the eventual way of killing Pennywise being bullying him to death. I’m not joking, they just circled him and said “You’re just a stupid clown,” until he wilted away into the ground. The gang rolls out, only losing Eddie.
I arrived at the movie theater at 9:45 p.m. and left at 1:30 a.m., completely unimpressed. I wasn’t scared and I wasn’t happy. From the CGI to the plotline, nothing seemed to fit together. I understand that the way to a successful movie arc is to create obstacle after obstacle, but after two hours, there was just no reason for any more obstacles. Let the Losers do the ritual and skip back to their successful lives, except maybe not Beverly.
But, I have to hand it to them: the casting is phenomenal. I mean, Bill Hader as old Richie? Absolutely outstanding. But, overall, two out of ten. The two is for Bill Hader.