MOVIE REVIEW: It sequel is big, dumb, Freudian fun


Three stars

Director: Andy Muschietti

Starring: James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Skarsgard

Rating: MA15+

Running time: 169 minutes

Verdict: Horror with the lot

Unlike its predecessor, It: Chapter Two leaves NOTHING to the imagination. Where the first film announced its malevolent intentions with a droplet of water on a steamy, rainy day window, this schlocky horror sequel lets rip with a barrage of visual effects pretty much from the opening credits.

When members of the Losers' Club honour the pledge they made as kids, returning to Derry in the wake of a horrendous hate crime, they experience a group hallucination in a Chinese restaurant at roughly the same time as the fortune cookies arrive.

The Losers’ club are reunited after 27 years.
The Losers’ club are reunited after 27 years.

Slithering eyeballs, human-headed spiders, babies with bat wings … their long-dreaded but hotly anticipated rematch with the evil clown Pennywise is like Dali on steroids. It's as if the CGI department has been furiously engineering surrealist mutations for every one of the intervening 27 years. Adding to the classic, more-is-more approach of the Hollywood blockbuster is the considerable baggage each character is lugging from their previous encounter with the supernatural predator.

Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy), who led the attack against Pennywise in revenge for his baby brother's death, is now a successful author who can't quite nail the endings of his mystery novels, largely because of his unresolved guilt. Beverly Marsh (Jessica Chastain) is in an abusive relationship with a jealous, controlling husband - which makes sense, given her past history with her father.

The adult Ben Hanscom (Jay Ryan) is handsomely buff, but he's still a fat boy on the inside. And his feelings for Beverly are still unrequited. Richie Tozier (Bill Hader) is a stand-up comic with a secret life. Germophobe and hypochondriac Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransone) is in risk management and Stanley Uris (Andy Bean) is a successful accountant.

Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) is the only member of the Losers' Club who has stayed in Derry, having taken it upon himself to monitor events. When it's time, he summons the reluctant heroes back to their home town.

In order to vanquish the evil entity known as It, or Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), each of the selectively amnesiac characters must come to terms with key events from their past - seldom has pop psychology been so slavishly applied.

It Chapter Two has enough flashbacks to trigger an epileptic fit, and not all of these sequences appeared in the previous film.

Since each character's showdown with Pennywise is given a similar weight, the film's running time blows out to a whopping two hours and 49 minutes.

But while the narrative for this horror film is unnecessarily bloated and Andy Muschietti drops the reins on the action, at times, there are plenty of sequences in which you will find yourself holding your breath - and the visual effects department has a ball.

Big, dumb, Freudian fun.


It: Chapter Two opens tomorrow.

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