What's Up with "IT"?

“It: Chapter II” opens with a violent scene that sets the precedent for the story to follow. What starts as a hate crime leads to the eventual dismemberment of an individual by Pennywise and begins the awakening of his twenty-seven-year slumber. The sequel takes a whole new approach, the “Losers” all grown up now must face the childhood traumas they endured in the first film. Instead of a coming-of-age story, the film surrounds more “grown-up” issues. These bullies are adults, who perpetuate hate against marginalized groups.

If you need some form of spooky entertainment, like funhouses that provide cheap jump-out scares, then you will enjoy this film. The film consistently leaves you in moments of anticipation where you know something will happen, but still jump regardless when it does. You navigate through each character’s vision of Pennywise like you navigate through the various rooms of a haunted house. Each person’s fear presents themselves in various forms then says “boo.” Also, discombobulating strobe lights and carnival lights appear in these visions and final scenes. In fact, some scenes even take place at a carnival. 

Image: Consequence of Sound

The film bounces between the extremes of an absurd dream, where a dismembered head can sprout spider legs, and real-life where the grown-up kids face their abusers. No resolution seems to exist for the characters' childhood trauma. They remember it (this time) and return to their previous lives they established (with some exceptions). Throughout the notion of only the “strong-willed” survive appears, which I found problematic in the context of trauma. 

Image: USA Today

Overall, I can say I enjoyed the first film significantly more than the second film. What seemed to save the second film was its comedic relief provided by Bill Hader and James Ransone. This was not Stephen King’s typical long drawn out terror, it scares by way of surprise--which I find disappointing. I would probably not return to this film since it is simply meant to entertain. Of course, this is my personal preference, I enjoy horror films that make an indelible mark on my soul by way of building up to the final horrific event. "It: Chapter II" reuses the same nightmarish visions we saw in the previous film--taking away from the terror.