WARNING: Spoilers ahead.
Okay, so maybe I’m late to the game here, but I finally got around to seeing the conclusive second half of the It movie franchise. My wife and I went on Sunday to the Market Square 10 AMC in Dekalb. The one with the comfy recliners. Your move, Rockford area AMC locations… Your move.
Based on the Stephen King novel, It follows seven people – “The Losers’ Club” as they call themselves – as they battle with an evil presence both in childhood, and then again as adults. The evil presence can manifest as any being it wishes but most often appears as the iconic horror clown “Pennywise.” Now that you’re caught up, here are the The Bright Spots, The Dull Spots, and my overall assessment.
Bill F****ing Hader – Is there a more likable actor in Hollywood right now? You know him from SNL and HBO’s Barry, but here, Hader plays the adult version of Richie Tozier, the wisecracking comic relief of the Losers’ Club. Richie’s character, not surprisingly, grows up to be a successful comedian. Hader’s portrayal perfectly illustrates a comedian’s desperation to create levity in even the darkest situations. Plus, he’s Bill F****ng Hader!
Pennywise – I’ll be honest, when I first heard they were rebooting It, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get past the original screen portrayal by Tim Curry in 1990. However, Bill Skarsgard pulled it off in both the reboot films. Except for his voice, which I’ll comment on below in the “Dull Spots” section. I feel like his portrayal better captured the monster that was Pennywise in Stephen King’s Novel, while Tim Curry’s was a little more campy (still terrified me as a child, though.)
Good Scares – A good horror movie should have two things. Good story and good scares. I felt this one had both. One notable moment occurred when Beverly Marsh (Jessica Chastain) returns to her childhood home and finds “It” posing as a new occupant. There is a shot where all we see is an archway leading into a darkened room, and from the black suddenly emerges a huge decrepit horror hag. It’s a good scare that turned into a pretty good laugh when you realized the monster in question had long, dangling boobs. Another moment occurs beneath some bleachers involving Pennywise and a little girl. I won’t bother going into detail here. It’s disturbing enough that I don’t want to.
THE DULL SPOTS:
Pennywise’s Voice: I’m not very nit-picky, and this is not actually a major problem for me — but there are times during the film when Pennywise the clown is speaking in a softer tone, and all I can think of is Winnie the Pooh. Did you see the movie? Do you know what I’m talking about? I looked at my wife and said “Pooh Bear.” She nodded and agreed. While it makes the “dull spots” section, it did not ruin the movie for me.
How They Kill The Monster: I have read Stephen King’s It twice, and I still couldn’t figure out how they actually killed “It” at the end. So, it doesn’t surprise me that in two versions of the final battle (1990 and 2019) it felt like something was missing. Oddly enough, Bill Denborough, a main character and one of the Lucky 7, who is a successful author in the story, gets prodded throughout the film for his endings not being up to snuff. Without giving away too much I’ll tell you this. They kill the monster by essentially bullying it to death. No, I’m serious. They weaken it with insults and then kill it. What the hell? A team of bullied children grow up to kill a monster by in fact, bullying it. The message seems fuzzy to me. Again, though, this detail wasn’t enough to ruin my enjoyment.
A give this movie an A-. I love Stephen King, and the story of It represents a perfect example of how scary a monster can actually be, and this film didn’t miss that mark. The minus only comes from that weird ending. Great performances by the cast, really disturbing visual effects, odd easter eggs (“Just Call Me Angel”)… all make this a fun scary movie to watch. Not only that but as a whole, the story is a great metaphor for confronting the demons from our past in order to enjoy our triumphs as adults.
IT: Chapter 2 is Rated R for a good reason. See it in theaters before it’s gone, and uh, don’t bring your kids unless you wanna be washing yellowed sheets for the rest of their childhood. Time to float.