Yes, you read that correctly.
I want to talk both about the genius that was It: Chapter Two and the issue with movie reviews – and trust me, the irony is not lost on me. To be perfectly candid, I don’t necessarily consider what I do here to be “reviews”. This started out as a “horror review blog” for a class my freshman year of college, but honestly I view it more as a place for me to gush about the horror movies I love without annoying everyone in my life. It’s an outlet for me to ruminate on horror and the genre and all things surrounding it, and all three people who read any of these posts (hi Dad) get to choose whether they listen to my nonsense.
Film critics are a totally different animal to me. I have never listened to film critics…I don’t even read reviews unless I have already seen the movie and want to hear another perspective. Personally, I think that most people making their living on reviews are jaded and impossible to impress as it is let alone when it comes to a genre that is already extremely polarizing.
Which brings me to It: Chapter Two…
I thought it was brilliant. Do I love the Native American lore being use for a story written by a white man? No. But Stephen King also seemed to have an obsession with using Native American lore/legend/land in his stories. (Let’s not forget that Pet Semetary which also just got a remake is ALL ABOUT A NATIVE AMERICAN PIECE OF LAND). Granted, the 80’s in general had an obsession with using Native American land as a copout *coughcough* Poltergeist *cough*.
BUT aside from the obvious cultural appropriation, and some qualms with how Bev was written which I will get into later, I really have no complaints about the film.
Lets start with the casting:
The detail they put into casting the adult versions of the characters was absolutely mind boggling. I was impressed by the cast when they released the initial photos, but it was nothing compared to seeing them in character.
Bill Hader was definitely a stand out in this film, and it was only enhanced by the fact that Richie is very obviously a closeted gay man and Hader Granted, I wish they could have given us an actual coming out scene (even if it was just small moment of admitting it to the Losers) but when diversity in horror is so low when it comes to sexuality I am happy to take any and all we are given.
James McAvoy was also great as Bill, but I’ve never been as head-over-heels for him the way 80% of the female population seems to be so while he was great (because he’s just a great actor) I wasn’t overly excited about him the way a lot of fans were.
Honestly, I was surprised by how much I loved James Ransone as Eddie. I saw Ransone in the Sinister films where he played a deputy (and an ex-deputy in the second one), and I wasn’t sure how confident I was in his acting chops. Partially because I haven’t seen the Sinister films in a long time and partly because he wasn’t memorable enough for me to automatically be excited about his casting. However, the combination of Hader as Richie and Ransone as Eddie was a comedy duo that enhanced the film and didn’t override the horror. Personally, I’d pay to watch a film of just those two actors in those two roles sitting in a room and just bantering for 2 hours. I realize calling Ransone unmemorable is not the kindest, but honestly those movies in general weren’t the most memorable so it wasn’t Ransone’s acting, but the character he played.
The rest of the cast was great and definitely shined, but going person by person seems like a bit of overkill…but let’s talk about Bev.
Bev in the first movie is a firecracker who stands up for herself, is more than just the token girl of the friend group, and actually is her own person. Bev in the second movie is…well..a prop. Granted, years of abuse by both her father and her husband are probably enough to make anyone timid and boring, but the character was just very disappointing as a whole to me. I feel like she existed just to be the object of Bill and Ben’s affection rather than being written as an actual human being. If I recall, it was very much the same thing in the mini-series from the 90’s but worse because Bev had sexual tension with all of the men and not just the two.
BUT I DIGRESS
Aside from the aforementioned issues I had – I really loved it. I think that one of the things people disliked was the CGI (the giant statue chasing Richie, the leper that attacks Eddie, the old woman in Bev’s old apartment). It is the type of thing that we aren’t used to seeing in modern horror. There’s this idea that the less you see if a villain the scarier they are, and in a lot of cases that’s true, however the way that It: Chapter Two was crafted feels like a love letter to horror movies of the 80’s. The terror of Pennywise and all the evil that comes along with him is how along each person is with their fear. Nobody can see the giant statue come to life and chase Richie through the park, but that doesn’t make it any less dangerous to him.
I’m enjoying the shift we’re seeing in horror, and I think we’re entering a new era of horror films. This can also be seen, on a smaller scale, in films like Insidious and The Conjuring. Without spending too much time on films that aren’t It in this post, Insidious was one of the first modern horror movies I remember moving away from the idea that the monster should never be fully seen or in view (the demon at the end of the first film, or the ghost of the mother in the second one who confronts them flat out) and the The Conjuring 2 used the same type of CGi for the Crooked Man.
From someone who does not have a degree in horror or film (whatup English majors), but spends 80% of her time ingesting horror content I think we are on the brink of the newest era of horror. In the early 2000’s slasher films/teen horror had their moment (Saw, Hostel, remakes of House of Wax and Friday the 13th), the 2010’s brought back a lot of haunted house content (Insidious, The Conjuring, Annabel) and I think we are starting to see another shift to horror that confronts the viewer more directly.
Personally, I think that’s very exciting.
I had someone tell me once that classic horror movies didn’t scare them because they “Didn’t know what was scary back then”, and while there are many layers to pull apart and discuss in that sentiment the main thing to talk about is the phases horror has been through. To be fair, horror is a rather new genre compared to genres like drama, comedy, or even fantasy. Gothic literature is really the mother of the modern horror genre, and it is still a genre that doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Films like It and It: Chapter Two are pushing back on people’s understanding of how horror works and what makes a movie scary. Let’s all just be happy that we’re finally getting a break from first person camera and zombie films for now.
My point in telling you what this person said is not to say they’re dumb or make fun of them, but simply to say that we are living in a generation that doesn’t understand or appreciate the classics. Yes Friday the 13th can be cheesy, but watching that arrow go through Kevin Bacon’s throat still gives me nervous tummy! In 20 years (assuming the world hasn’t burned by then) our kids will be telling us that directors working now “didn’t know what was scary”. People disliking it didn’t seem to come from anything more than misunderstanding the genre, and when people don’t like something their automatic response is that it’s bad…but just because you don’t like something doesn’t make it “bad”, it just means it’s not for you!
If you haven’t seen It: Chapter Two yet I highly recommend it. I was extremely excited, and not disappointed (other than maybe Bev). It is worth the outrageous cost of movie tickets, and I’m honestly just curious what people’s thoughts are on the shift we’re starting to see in modern horror films. If you have any thoughts my email will be down below and you’re welcome to send them to me!
I realize that most of my rambling in this post wasn’t about the movie itself, but honestly I feel like it’s one you just have to see for yourself.
Send me your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org