Change is good and absolutely is the grass sometimes greener

Going into watching the second and final instalment of Muschietti’s cinematic reproduction of the classic Stephen King novel ‘It’ blind, is a strange and sometimes confusing experience. After the unmistakable success as an outright horror of  2017’S predecessor, Chapter Two was always going to be different with it taking place 27 years after the initial feature, yet there’s a large portion of the audience that would have no idea this was the case, or at least knew very little about what its plot revolved around (myself included). In reality, the story makes it’s most sense when the character arcs are in their most advanced stage, but that doesn’t always translate well with an audience, when art doesn’t appear as they had expected. For a film or franchise to need to make use of such a different style and tone to it’s initial outing, acceptance is often difficult to come by, but change is good and absolutely is the grass sometimes greener.

Now, in no way is this a suggestion that Chapter Two is a better film, because plainly it isn’t. Chapter One is one of the best horror films of it’s generation, and that’s essentially now a given, but Chapter Two is absolutely better than what a Chapter One recreation would have been, producing the exact same film over again. Yet by reducing the horror, and opening up ‘The Losers’ to the natural fate driven lives they were always running towards, Chapter Two becomes much more of an engaging and mysterious watch. This is probably more of a critique of the initial story rather than the film, but it does offer a good deal of insight to anyone questioning what they were watching. Chapter Two is a natural progression film that simply had to happen.

27 years after killing Pennywise The Clown in Chapter One, Mike (Isaiah Mustafa) the only member of ‘The Losers’ still living in Derry is driven to reunite the group when children in the town begin to go missing again. Detached from the infamous summer the group had when defeating Pennywise, each member of ‘The Losers’ has forgotten the struggles and difficulties they went through. Determined to destroy Pennywise again, this time permanently, ‘The Losers’ led by Bill (James McAvoy) try to overcome years of change and adult anxieties as they step up to take on the hideous clown. 

It seems that Chapter Two is a feature clinging to its older sibling for life support. A double bill of the pair would likely add extra impetus to the smaller details Muschietti loves to linger on as a director. This is a feature that constantly harks back to its predecessor, showing its resilience and understanding that these two features are permanently linked despite their differences. The usage of flashbacks and dreams, featuring the characters and young actors of the first film offer the reminders, but they would naturally pair well with the beautifully shot original. It is with these children that the majority of the horror comes back. After all, children are far more vulnerable than adults, when viewed as a third party, and the flashbacks become an excellent way for Muschietti to fit more of what people loved about Chapter One into the feature. 

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Driven by an astoundingly great cast, the character work has clearly been given the time it needed to develop, with small ticks, notions, and in McAvoy’s case, stutters, allowed to creep slowly into the production. Muschietti has created a pair of films that slide effortlessly into an age where television often rules, matching what any great series can now offer. It’s clear that these films need to be watched back to back for the full experience. 

But after all of this acceptance and understanding of what Chapter Two actually is, it isn’t the breakout sequel Muschietti’s original perhaps promised it could be. The beauty of the film is somewhat missing, with a larger reliance on the usage of CGI for the fear to set in. The effects will always be less convincing those of practical creation, and that goes for the character’s reactions to what they are seeing as well. Even the best actors know when they have something to work against they produce better and more convincing performances. There are multiple wonderful performances within Chapter Two, but that doesn’t mean practical effects wouldn’t have made them better.

The natural story is more winding and tougher to engage with than it would like, with the youthful abandon of Chapter One’s story acting as a particularly strong driving force to its nature. The separation section of the feature supplies much of the horror, essentially what the audience is there for, but lacks in the coherence and conviction of when ‘The Losers’ are together interacting with their personality clashes and matches. It’s a tougher section of the story to film, and that’s difficult when it comes after such an immensely engaging piece.

Because it comes second, it has something to live up too, least of all an audience’s expectation, but It Chapter Two is an evolution of a story and will be difficult for some to swallow. But Muschietti, clearly an adept and committed filmmaker, has put together a piece that pairs beautifully with Chapter One, never taking from what made that film brilliant. It’s far lighter on the horror, and many of the aspects that gave the initial piece such a great reception, but it’s a film in its own right, and giving it a back to back viewing, it will certainly work as an immense five-hour plus piece of art, and accepting that early on in the viewing process will give anyone a far improved experience of a visionary horror franchise.

4/5

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