Sept. 7, 2017: Stories of killer clowns lurking in the woods of small town America filled the news; the image so ridiculously unsettling it could fit right into a horror movie. Sure enough, the lines between reality and the world of film were blurrier than ever before, and the highly anticipated new movie of the fall featured a scary tale that was all too familiar—an evil, murderous clown. Known as ‘It’ or ‘Pennywise’, the shape-shifting, jig-dancing, multi-fanged clown emerges every 27 years to feed. His food of choice? Human flesh. Particularly that of children, who are the easiest to scare, and thus the most delicious. Apparently fear is the best form of seasoning.

In Stephen King’s book "It," a group of children residing in the town of Derry, Maine must overcome their deepest fears and band together to defeat the titular creature. The film adaptation stirred up quite a frenzy before and during its release, complete with red balloon sightings and impressive cosplay that made it hard to distinguish between a psychopathic joker and a dedicated super-fan. The film was, of course, a smash hit, and understandably so. It possessed a brilliant balance between gore, fear, and comedic relief; the film was composed with distinct and memorable characters that made it easy to feel emotionally invested.

Although the first film was released only two years ago, 27 years have passed in the universe of "It Chapter Two," and the time for Pennywise to come out of the sewers and pay us a visit has come once again. 

Not to worry, I will not spoil anything for you potential movie goers. All I intend to do here is provide you with an honest and uncomplicated review of "It Chapter Two," so you can decide whether it is worth it to hop on a shuttle over to South Bay and sit down in the theater. You should know, the seats are very comfy, and they recline.

To begin, should you go see it? In a simple answer, yes. Though I have a few qualms that I’ll elaborate on in a bit, I left the AMC theater feeling happy and appreciative of Stephen King’s concerningly creepy imagination. Despite a few technicalities, "It Chapter Two" provided the jump scares, the humor and the disgusting gore that we came to expect from the first installment, as well as a neat and satisfactory ending. However, I did find the delicate balance between humor and horror to be a bit lopsided, with the scales tipped a little too far toward comedy. Often times I sat there, unsure of whether to laugh or feel terrified at the various forms of Pennywise on the screen. Similarly to how "Us," by Jordan Peele, was unsettling in the fact that after someone was stabbed to death you could find yourself laughing and dancing to the soundtrack, this perversion of natural human reactions made "It Chapter Two" a bit disjointed and discombobulating at times. The comedic one-liners delivered by both the child and adult versions of Richie and Eddy were charmingly familiar, but could be slightly cheesy due to their frequency.  

Regardless, there were numerous home-runs with the sequel, and elements that the director, Andrés Muschietti, and the stellar cast executed brilliantly. To begin, poor casting of the grown-up versions of kids we had already grown so attached to in the first movie could have broken the film entirely. Fortunately, not only were the matching appearances uncanny, the adult actors—especially Bill Hader and James Ransone—all evoked the mannerisms, expressions, and personalities of their younger counterparts. This made their performances all the more believable. Bill Skarsgård also brought an impressive range of emotions to the table, so much so that at times, I began to feel sympathy for the clown. I also found myself, but two seconds later, jumping when he takes a chomp out of a child. So ... lesson learned there.

Ultimately, the film deals with the adult versions of the characters we met in the first film. Their fears may still manifest themselves as classic scary story elements, but what elevates this movie above its predecessor is that as grown-ups, the fears Pennywise uses to terrorize "The Losers" are just that, all grown up. Each member of the group finds that their deep rooted psychological issues and childhood traumas are much harder to overcome than a scary image, and certainly won’t go away just by closing their eyes and saying "it’s not real." This added depth also prompts the audience, at least in my experience, to question what Pennywise would look like to me. How would he use, say, my crippling fear of failure against me? What would he look like and could I defeat him? The intensity and grittiness of these questions has the potential to weigh down the mood of the entire film, but the solidarity and love shared between an old crew all back together again gives the morbid film a much needed note of hope and inspiration. Overall, a successfully scary and substantive horror fill, with a heavy dash of comedy, that I believe is definitely worth a watch.  

If you see the movie, or have any thoughts you want to share, let me know what you think by sending me a message at either aleena.rose001@umb.edu or on Instagram @aleenagracerose.

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