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In a word; good.
The Losers Club is back in Derry, as they swore 27 years prior, to finally rid the town of Pennywise. Clown Season is officially here folks!
Spoilers from here on out!
I went to the sequel with about as much pessimism as I could muster amidst my excited anticipation. I found that my worries that the second instalment would fail to live up to the first were thankfully ungrounded. At nearly a three hour runtime, it didn’t feel that long while watching. The movie slowed at the right times, so the film didn’t drag for me the way that others have commented on. While it wasn’t as perfect as Chapter One, it certainly brought more than just the fear, making it a horror movie you can enjoy as much as you can be scared by it.
James McAvoy was once again great; he became Bill and delivered a believable performance. This outlook was true for the whole adult cast, they took the characters from their previous actors and at once became credible older versions while making the character’s their own.
The standout performance was surprisingly Bill Hader for me; he delivered laughs when he needed to because, of course, he did. However, it was the breakdown Richie had when Eddie died that was incredibly intense that it elicited unexpected tears from all of us watching.
Unfortunately, I found that the moment where I felt the most intense fear was at the beginning when the Losers Club worked out what the fortune cookies spelt out. The plot was adapted as best as it could be without completely changing it from the book. The book goes off into the supernatural, so I think that eliminating the large turtle-shaped elephant in the room was a wise choice. Even if the origins of the Ritual of Chud still felt like it needed more explanation than it was given.
On the subject of horror, this movie upped the ante since the last. Just as the characters matured, so did the scares. Perhaps sometimes to its detriment, at least for my enjoyment; the gore and general exposure to the gross stuff were brought out a lot more than just in Eddie’s disease-ridden Pennywise iteration.
I think this might have been the reason why I have so little to say about Bill Skarsgård’s Pennywise other than it being consistently good and even creepier than his first time as the clown. Although he was faultless, there was a noticeably greater reliance on CGI-based horror, even in affectations of his smile, than just on his acting.
However, the heart was still there. This was clearly a movie where the writers appreciated the characters. The Losers were given an equal amount of screen time, and it never felt like one was more of the main character than the other. The focus is taken off of Bill and given to parts such as Mike and Richie who we didn’t get to see as much of in the first film.
I found myself smiling when the Losers reunite and shedding a tear at the end when they all once again go their separate ways. They feel organically, real friends in ways that other horror films don’t grasp, where characters who seem thrown together never bond or share commonalities. Arguably this is thanks to the subject matter, but a great adaptation such as this and Chapter One is still relatively rare, Stephen King’s cameo as the antique dealer can perhaps be recognised as his seal of approval.