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“IT” Returns: A Film Review

Stephen King created a demonic force that feeds on the deepest fears and insecurities of its prey every 27 years in his 1986 horror novel “IT”. It seems fitting that the second film adaptation was brought to life 27 years after the two-part, three-hour miniseries from the 1990s. Seven children, known as the Losers’ Club, face IT as children and now must come back to town when IT returns to face their fears again in “IT: Chapter Two”, which hit theaters on September 6.

The film featured a strong cast that seamlessly fit their younger counterparts. Bill Hader, who plays adult Richie Tozier, showed his versatility between humorous and darker roles. James McAvoy was a natural choice for character Bill Denbrough with his past roles in other horror and thriller films. Bill Skarsgard brought life to Pennywise in the second film with his body contortions, clown smile and an eye trick that allowed him to focus on a movie character and the audience at the same time. 

The adult characters gained development in this second film as flashback scenes brought insight on Ben’s love for Bev, Richie’s sexual attraction and Eddie’s reliance on his mother taking a backseat to his fear of germs and sickness. These details further explain the actions of children from the first film, such as Richie’s overcompensation of manhood as a child.

Though the characters developed, there was a lack of chemistry between the adult actors. This could be because in the novel, the people who leave Derry don’t remember living there. 

Some of the best scenes were when all of the characters and their personalities came together, like when the Losers’ Club reunited at The Jade of the Orient.. Unfortunately, these scenes are minimal as the group breaks up to find their individual artifacts and faced their fears with IT by themselves. The assembly-line style of each encounter with Pennywise became boring and expected. Each jump scare was predictable, but they still created fascinating and disturbing scenes.

Despite the movie having a long run time of nearly three hours, some plots from the book remained underdeveloped. Bev’s abusive relationship was not resolved, though the book dove deeper into her cycle of abuse. Bill’s wife also had a larger role in the book, but removing her side plot did not affect Bill’s character the same way removing Bev’s husband took a toll on the development of her own character.

Most differences from the book to the movie were minor, such as who killed Henry Bowers and the use of Stanley’s head in the movie to pay homage to the 1982 film “The Thing”. Some other differences came because of the change in time, as the novel is set in the 1950s and the first movie is set in the 1980s. The biggest differences were in the psychic abilities of the Losers’ Club. The book hints to the idea of each of the kids having the “shine”, similar to Danny from “The Shining”.

In the book, the Losers’ Club defeats Pennywise with a battle of minds, but the movie shows them overcoming their fears and shrinking IT with their words, making him feel small, literally shrinking him in the process. The movie also removed Maturin, the benevolent turtle that carries the world on his back. Maturin assisted the Losers’ Club in defeating Pennywise but is left out of the movie except in the form of Easter eggs. This exclusion separates the IT movies from the rest of the universe of Stephen King novels and movie adaptation. 

Even if you haven’t read the book, watched the miniseries or even seen the first film, you can still see “IT: Chapter Two”. Though the movie rewards those who know the deeper context of the film, the movie is entertaining and easy to follow along with. If you enjoy horror, this is a must-see!

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Emilyn Giddings

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