Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) is back to terrorize Derry and there’s only one thing for our gang to do – come back and kill the fucking clown. A promise is a promise after all…
Twenty-seven years after their first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back.
You’ll Float Again
27 years after the events of the first film, we catch up with Bev, Stanley, Richie, Bill, Ben, Mike and Eddie as full grown adults, all doing their own thing outside Derry. Well, all but Mike (Isaiah Mustafa) who stayed to keep an eye on the small town and the unspeakable evil that lurks beneath it. When it becomes apparent that It – despite their victory against it last time – has not disappeared forever as they’d hoped, Mike is forced to call The Losers back together for a new fight.
None of the gang remember much except Mike, something has happened to their memories of the town they grew up in and the childhoods they knew. Most of all their summer of friendship is a blur. As they settle back into their roles within the group, these memories start to come back – and it’s not all roses. Mike must convince them to keep their vow to do what it takes to defeat It once and for all.
Unfortunately Stanley (Andy Bean) can’t join his friends – and in addition to the killer clown, the relentless pest Pennywise – the Losers also have to contend with their old bully Henry Bowers (Teach Grant), who’s just escaped the mental institution that has held him since he brutally murdered his own father. Can our pals evade a stab-happy Bowers, clear their minds and beat the shit out of the third creepiest clown in cinematic history before going back to their respective lives?
I can’t go too far into the play by play, there’s just too much ground to cover. It is an epic story and it spans a lot of time. At 2 hours 49 it’s a beast of a movie and I loved it. I’ve seen in twice now and it’s full of all the wonder and magic and terror and nostalgia I needed. The film is imperfect and not all of it works but I’m delighted with the adaptation of a book that means a lot to me and I have no doubt that will grow with every viewing.
The effects are amazing if a little much in some places – looking at you naked hag – and the casting of the adult versions of the Losers is spot on. Particularly Eddie (James Ransone) and Richie (Hader) who steal the show with their chemistry (much as they did as kids). James McAvoy is obviously very easy on the eye and brings a solidity to Bill Denbrough, the unofficial leader of the gang. And Uncle Stephen‘s cameo was brilliant too.
Main man Bill Skarsgård nails PW perfectly. He’s really grown into the role – I particularly enjoyed the scene in which he manipulates a little girl by way of her physical insecurities (and then eats her). The scene in which the gang come together for the first time in a Chinese restaurant is also glorious – and hideous, in equal measure. I love how the film flashes between past and present day, perfectly morphing the adults back into children, pulling at our heartstrings as it goes. I can’t look at baby Ben Hanscom (Jeremy Ray Taylor) without wanting to smoosh the shit out of him, he’s so vulnerable and precious.
“Your hair is winter fire
My heart burns there, too.”
I have beef too – mainly the way they used Bowers and his crew. In the book the human terror was just as prolific as the supernatural and Henry posed a massive threat to the gang. In Chapter Two he’s reduced to a secondary character and framed as the light comedy relief which is just wrong. His story line never really goes anywhere. Likewise, Bill’s wife Audra and Beverly’s husband are underused and the emphasis on Bev’s lifelong cycle of abuse is not very clear. I think it’s a key element of who she is and how she defeats her demons. As a result adult Bev isn’t very well-developed and Chastain is quite overshadowed by her adolescent counterpart.
It needs to mentioned that the movie opens with a horrendous homophobic attack. It is obviously incredibly difficult to watch – but I’m glad they didn’t shy away from including it in the film. It goes some way towards making the point that Derry is bad because of an inherent evil that dwells there (or are people just bad?). The image of Pennywise putting out a hand to help a drowning man is chilling to the core and the scene looks exactly as I imagined it in my mind.
There’s a lot of fat phobia – Eddie’s ma in particular is not treated very respectfully, while Ben was only hot once he got skinny and did some crunches (true the source material) but how good would it be for the fat dude to get the girl, no questions asked?
It is a mammoth book and it would be very hard to cover everything across two films, so I shouldn’t be too sore about the missed bits. I’m still delighted with what I got and I’m sad it’s over. It may be about fear and the birth of evil but it’s also the perfect ode of the kind of friendship you’ll always hold near, even if you lose touch. I cried my eyes out as the credits rolled (both times).
Now, what I wouldn’t give for a Pennywise backstory spin off!