MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Two years ago It hit theater screens and became the first horror film to make over 100 million dollars during its opening weekend. It was also one of the few R-rated films in which parents bought tickets for their older kids and watched the movie together. It told the story of “The Losers Club”, a group of misfit kids growing up together in the 1980s battling the specter of evil materializing in various forms but most noticeably as Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgård). At the film’s end, the friends promised to come back together if there was ever any trouble.
Well, there’s trouble. Trouble in Derry, Maine. And it starts with a T and that rhymes with P and that stands for Pennywise.
Mike (Isaiah Mustafa) is the buddy who never left town and took a job at the library (even living in an apartment above the stacks). He makes phone calls to the gang. One of the friends has already committed suicide. As each one receives the news, there is a sense of intense dread. But return home, they do. And the fun of It Chapter Two is observing the adult counterparts to the younger actors in the first film. The movie is wonderfully cast. In fact, Sophia Lillis chose Jessica Chastain to play herself as Beverly and Finn Wolfhard thought Bill Hader would be a good actor to represent his character of Richie “Trashmouth” Tozier. As the poet William Wordsworth once noted “the child is father to the man”. Our childhood – for good or ill – remains with us for a lifetime. Wise mouth Richie is a standup comic; abused child Beverly is now married to an abusive husband; anxious and hypochondriac Eddie (James Ransone/Jack Dylan Grazer) is a risk manager married to a smothering spouse similar to his mother. Ben (Jay Ryan/Jeremy Ray Taylor), the overweight kid with a brain and a heart who designed dams and club houses is now an architect. And Bill (James McAvoy/Jaeden Martell), still mourning the tragic death of his little brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott), is a writer of popular horror novels.
Once Mike “gets the band together”, there isn’t much to do except figure out a way to take care of the Derry curse. For reasons that make sense only to horror films, the adults need to separate at first and reencounter their individual traumas before getting together as a community for a final encounter with the many faces of Pennywise.
There really isn’t much heft to this film. By successfully dealing with the coming-of-age stories of childhood (which make up half of the novel) in the first movie, everything here is just more of the same. I was impressed with the quality of filmmaking and consider Andy Muschietti one of the best horror directors working today (2013’s Mama, also starring Chastain, is well worth a viewing). But without a strong story, It Chapter Two becomes just a big budget scare factory. And there’s only so many ways you can have something jump out and say “Boo!” The film resorts to cheesy CGI monsters in order to keep things interesting (they don’t work) and takes a long time to wrap things up.
But I kept thinking about the parts of our past that haunt us, the wonderful moments of our lives that we hold onto, the friendships that last and the ones that fade away, and how God’s love and grace can take us as we are and make something new. The demons lurk in the shadows, but that’s also where the light shines in.
Halo and Pitchfork Rating:
Three halos: A satisfying horror film that exists simply to wrap things up from an earlier movie.
Four pitchforks: Much swearing; intense, brief violence; bullying from youth and adults; murder; hate crimes.
Do you have comments about this movie or movie review? E-mail your comments. (Your name and UM affiliation must be supplied in order for your comments to be posted.)
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
COMMENTS! Do you have comments about this movie or movie review?
E-mail comments. (Comments will be posted to our web site.)
The East Ohio Conference Office:
located in North Canton, OH,
near Akron-Canton Airport.
8800 Cleveland Ave. NW
North Canton, OH 44720
Local: (330) 499-3972
Toll Free: (800) 831-3972
Fax: (330) 499-3279
Monday through Friday
8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
© EAST OHIO CONFERENCE. All Rights Reserved.