The It crowd is back (the coulrophobic rather than transphobic one) to battle an evil clown in It Chapter Two, or The Continued Decline of James McAvoy.
27 years after the events of It, the Losers’ Club is called back to Derry, where the same things happen again (Derry must rival Crystal Lake or Hill Valley for the title of America’s most repetitive town) only this time it takes 2 hours and 50 minutes – mostly comprising flashbacks to the kids being terrorised by Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) as though we didn’t already have enough of that in the previous instalment. So while the 2017 feature tediously rehashed the 1990 miniseries, this recycles the miniseries and the first film, resulting in nearly 3 hours of clownic irritation.
On a generous reading it isn’t even meant to be scary. Major studios view disturbing films as box office risks because audiences don’t want to be unsettled; they want the comfort of knowing how every scene is going to play out. That’s why slasher flicks were a goldmine in the ’80s, why the Conjuring franchise has filled that hole, and why a film like Us makes $100m less than A Quiet Place. For reasons that can only be described as zeitgeist, the first It movie became the highest-grossing horror movie ever and Warner Bros. demanded more of the same. And that’s exactly what they got. More. Of the same.
Every scene ends with some ridiculous CGI monster running around, some of which are so bad they’re funny, but given the length of the picture these moments are too few and far between. Apparently terrified of the audience growing bored, Andy Muschietti stuffs every sequence with unnecessary CGI at the same hysterical fever pitch, ironically failing to anticipate the boredom of every scene ending exactly the same way. Where’s the suspense in that? Why are there so many Evil Deadites in this It movie? Who wrote the jokes, and is it too late to send them back to clown school?
Anyone old enough to see It Chapter Two is too old be scared by it, to the point that one assumes Warner Bros. only kept the posters up (much to the disgruntlement of parents) in order that someone be frightened by some aspect of this movie. Skarsgård’s cartoony Pennywise continues to be laughable, neither as scary as Alexander Skarsgård in Big Little Lies nor Stellan Skarsgård in Mamma Mia! This is another obnoxiously long and predictable horror film that thinks audiences are too stupid for subtlety. At least Midsommar was bright enough to read a book.