Movie reviews by
3 (out of 4)
It’s no small thing to make America sit through a three-hour movie, let alone one half of a supernatural clown story. Stephen King’s gargantuan bedside table paperweight has become the centerpiece of a madman’s prolific paperback output and, for the sake of cinematic clarity, the nonlinear, cocaine-fueled coming-of-age creeper has been severed into halves. The second and final portion of It is handily structured, pleasingly grotesque and thoughtfully cast – Chapter Two also has neat practical and visual effects, nasty (if at times oh so cheap) frights and a bargain bin of relatable humor courtesy of Bill Hader. In the philistine domain of horror sequels, this is one of the most justified of its kind in terms of both coasting off a former film’s success and in the knotty abbreviation of a daunting adaptation.
Chapter One separately had its own nostalgic simplicity as well as direct genre conventions and the latter part of the tale should be held accountable for the same indiscretions: jump scares aplenty, half-baked (if self-aware) conclusions, not to mention every cliché and oddity each screen version has inherited from King’s own inscrutable kookiness. Both installments are some of the highest grossing horror films in history, which suggests things will not exceed a certain threshold of weirdness for today's eyeballs – but even abridged, King’s peculiarities have exited the page and provided the sort of monstrous entertainment that lives up to It’s horribly big reputation.
So yeah, I admit I didn’t read the 1000+ page novel – I didn’t even make it all the way through The Shining and Kubrick's variation is one of my favorite films of all time. Neither It movie will become as iconic as other classic realizations – Brian De Palma’s Carrie, John Carpenter’s Christine, Rob Reiner's Stand By Me and Misery – but damn if the pair of films in question aren't scary by the masses’ standards and at least a few cuts above the garbage enticing typical audiences to flock in fear. My personal lack of refresher to the events of Chapter One made the collective amnesia of the Losers all the more relevant, the evolution of their childhood phobias more cogent and film's unavoidable repetition not only forgivable but satisfying. And the absence of the original film's camaraderie left the modified relationships full of apprehension and confusion – the borderline wistful crowd-pleasing of the former film is exchanged for disillusionment and unshakable unease.
If there are mistakes in adapting King’s unconscious insanity, I am gladly none the wiser – and I know about the space turtles and tween orgies and whatever else. It Chapter Two expands the budget, scope and momentum of its predecessor by taking risks with elaborate set-pieces and generous narrative clip. The movie could have easily reeked of indulgence, but trying to reasonably relay King's overcooked omelet of nightmare ideas is bound to inform your final film with a fair share of both heedless experimentation and some dumb deficiencies. This It nestles into the seldom-entered territory of epic horror and leaves you there to bask in the genre's most self-evident and arcane gratifications.
To keep it brief...
Soon to Come:
The Current War,
"So what've you been up to?"
"Escaping mostly... and I escape real good."
- Inherent Vice