This past weekend the second and final part to the It series came to frighten audiences once more. The film returned to show the child characters of the first film 27 years later. The now adult “Losers Club” once again team together to defeat Pennywise the Clown (Bill Skarsgård)– this time permanently.
Two years ago, the much-anticipated adaptation of Stephen King’s novel debuted. From the start, the creators of this adaption knew they wanted to make a two-part film series. This was evident through the promotion of the film– promotional posters with phrases like “It ends.” I can appreciate when a saga or series knows when to finish up; even though the It adaptations could’ve dragged on if the producers wanted to milk It. Even so, the almost 3-hours-long-ending makes the scary clown trope feel tired and overdone. What the film tried to do, but couldn’t execute, was illustrate the more abstract fears of adulthood.
The movie begins with a re-introduction of the characters as adults. Characters such as Beverly (Jessica Chastain) are now married, wealthy, and do not remember a single thing about their hometown in Derry, Maine (or IT). The losers get a call from Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), the only member who has remained in Derry in order to better understand IT, and reluctantly come back. The film follows the novel’s narrative, almost to a fault; as though the creators were too afraid to use any creative direction and fell back on King’s plot. The problem is that they did not translate King’s novel to film well. The atmosphere that King creates in his novel is impossible to recreate in a movie. In fact, it often comes out as tacky, funny, and definitely not scary.
For instance, when the losers club gathers for a reunion dinner at a Chinese restaurant, their fortune cookies crack open like eggs and creepy chimera-like creatures emerge. While grotesque, the audience in the theater broke out in laughter as Bill (James McAvoy) tried to swat one away. The fear I sensed in the audience was not from Pennywise, but instead from the fear which lies in the writers– of making something of their own.
The film was not a complete failure, it just seemed more of a missed opportunity. I have to praise the special effects and design team of this project. Just like the first IT, the set design was able to cast a distinctive tone and feeling that is Derry, Maine. Pennywise’s makeup and overall design was one of the most impressive aspects of this film and will surely strike fear into the hearts of children for years to come. I wish that the creative energy from the design team could’ve transferred to the narrative.