Emily: Okay, so when I decided I was going to do 10 weeks of Spooktober leading up to Halloween, we knew I had to do It Chapter 2, the most anticipated horror movie of 2019. And we also knew I wasn't going to be able to do a movie this important on my own. And so with that in mind, I have Kelli baby here to help me tackle this monster of a movie. And it is a monster of a movie at nearly three hours long. Just to give you some perspective, the first two horror movies I've done for this series were about an hour and a half, if a little bit shorter. So combine those two movies together and you get this one big giant It Chapter 2 movie.
It does make sense that the film is so long if you look at the source material. Stephen King's It novel is 1,138 pages. But did this movie make the most of its bloated run time? Is this second part of the film, which follows the Losers Club 27 years after the first It Attack, as compelling as the first?
YOU GOTTA READ TO FIND OUT OK. And also, unlike the previous two Spooktober posts, this will have spoilers. So go see the movie. Take a nap. Come back. We'll be here.
Kelli: I'm Kelli baby, and I'm thrilled to be here.
So, yeah, this movie is long as fuck. Generally, if a movie is going to be this long, the best case scenario is that it’s a horror movie—because with horror, the dread + the scares tend to make a movie go faster. God forbid I'm sitting through two and a half hours of super heroes power-punching each other, you know?
Emily: Ugh tell me about it. Or like... a period drama about Lincoln. I didn't actually see that movie so don't @ me.
Kelli: I did. Can confirm: it was long.
Emily: Okay so before we get into our feelings, quick summary of the movie for those of you who decided to stay in spite of spoilers. In It chapter one, seven outcast kids come together to fight a "killer clown." After they drive it back into the sewers and potentially away for good, they make a blood oath to come back and confront the monster again should it ever come back.
Well, it's 27 years later, and that shit is back. Everyone who has moved away has forgotten these childhood memories, but Mike Hanlon, the group's historian, has stayed behind to keep watch, and he's the one who pulls them all back to fight the monster yet again.
Kelli: I feel like they should have known It was going to come back, since they established in the first movie that It comes back every 27 years, but okay.
Emily: So when you simplify it like that, it's sort of like... why did this take nearly six hours total to tell? Why is this a 1,000+ page book? Does this movie deserve to be this long? What do you think, Kelli?
Here's the thing. I love this story. Which is kind of funny, because I haven't actually read the book (though I might make an attempt this spooky season). But I watched the miniseries before we discussed Muschietti's first installment on our podcast back in 2017, and even the miniseries—bloated and poorly acted and ridiculous—captured my heart. And the reason it did is 100% because of the characters, and the relationship dynamics in this group of friends. So even though this movie was long, I was happy to spend as much time with these characters as possible.
THAT BEING SAID. This movie is a mess.
Emily: Yes it's weird af. And I feel like I know why but finish your thought.
Kelli: I think one of the pitfalls of a movie with this many main characters is that you have to explore each of their individual fears. That works alright when we're dealing with a group of kids. But now, in It Chapter 2, we're dealing with the adult versions of the kids, PLUS the kid version of the kids, plus several extra layers of plot, and it's just... too much.
Emily: Yeah so... Here's my issue with It Chapter 2.
I have read the book, and the mini-series is something I grew up watching and loved. So yes, I also have a soft spot for this material and these characters. So when they announced this movie and said they would be splitting it into two films, I was THRILLED they were going to give the story the time it needs. HOWEVER, I was a little apprehensive about the idea of splitting the story into the children's part and the adult part.
In the novel (and in the mini-series), the story uses the contemporary timeline as a frame narrative and flashes back to childhood in between the adult sections. This is a stronger way to tell the story, because, frankly, the children's story is more interesting. Having the adults split up and examine their fears separately was something made up ENTIRELY for this film to almost recreate these flashback scenes and give the movie the same kind of vibe as the first movie. But in terms of the actual plot of the movie, it makes zero sense.
And when the adult portion of the movie was originally intended to be a frame for the child story, it causes weird pacing issues.
Like in the book, Stanley finds out he has to go back to Derry, then we flash back and learn about him, and THEN he dies by suicide, about midway through the novel. In this movie, it happens very early and as a result has very little emotional impact. Even though we spent a whole movie with child Stanley, that was a different movie, and that was two years ago.
Kelli: I agree about the pacing, but I actually disagree about Stanley—I thought his death had a much greater emotional impact in this movie than in the miniseries.
Emily: Why did it have a greater emotional impact?
Kelli: I think it was because they took more time to reckon with his suicide in this film than they did in the adult portion of the original. Again—I haven't read the book, and I don't doubt it works better here than in the original source material.
Emily: Okay, but that's after the fact. The actual suicide scene happens early and we don't really know this person.
Kelli: Oh, you're saying just the actual suicide moment and not the impact his suicide has on the whole story.
Emily: Exactly. Because it just... happens. Without any build up.
Kelli: Okay, then yeah, I agree with that. I mean, I did remember Stanley, and because I knew what would happen, I remember thinking throughout the entire first film, "this kid is the one who's going to kill himself later."
Emily: Yeah, but you shouldn't have to come in with that information to care, I guess.
Kelli: I guess—but also, this movie certainly doesn't stand alone, and I don't think it’s intended to. We don't get a lot of background about what happened to these characters in the original. Like, the death of Bill's brother—that's not something they ever explicitly explain until almost the end of the film.
Emily: See, I thought we retreaded A LOT of stuff from the original. Because we needed the kids to CARE about the adults at all. Stephen King is just not as good at writing adults. He's really good at writing kids.
Kelli: I don't think I would have cared anywhere near as much if I hadn't seen the original, you know? Like, if you just watched this movie, it wouldn't be enough. The first movie stands on its own.
Emily: Yes. And that's the issue. The adult stuff can't stand on its own because it's a frame narrative. So trying to make a movie out of it is kind of a mess. And also it's kind of hokey at times.
Kelli: I do think we get much more interesting performances from these adults than the adult actors in the miniseries, and that helps.
Emily: Yes, this was so well cast.
Kelli: The cast is excellent.
Emily: But... okay let me just talk about the hokiest moment.
Kelli: Please say it's the winter fire part.
Emily: Yes. When Beverly and Ben are in their separate nightmares...
Kelli: I was DYING OF LAUGHTER.
Emily: And she realizes it was Ben. And he's like "MY HEART BURNS THERE TOO." And I was just like, fuck, this poem is not good enough for all this.
Kelli: Right, meanwhile they're both being sucked into separate hells and reaching for each other's hands and we’re supposed to care about them shouting a shitty middle school poem at each other. It just really didn't work.
Emily: Right and like... when they were middle school kids it's all well and good. Because they're kids. But as adults, you're like, come on, you're not still thinking about that shitty poem.
Kelli: HAHA. Well, I do want to say: we've been shitting on this movie a lot, and I don't want to give the impression that I didn't enjoy it or that it didn't have its strengths.
Emily: Yeah, I just wanted to get the adult thing out of the way because honestly, that's not an issue with this movie. It's an issue with the story. The only reason we care about the adult part is because we love the kid part so much. BE HONEST YOU KNOW IT'S TRUE.
Kelli: And because all of the adults in this movie are hot? Which was also not true in the miniseries. Let's be real, I'd watch James McAvoy do anything.
Emily: WHAT you didn't want to bone John Ritter?
Kelli: I DID want to bone John Ritter actually—but only him.
Emily: See. I knew it.
Kelli: I had so much eye candy in this movie. Adult Ben? Hot. Adult Mike? Hot. Adult Bill? Very hot. Adult Richie? I'm coming around to my weird crush on Bill Hader, so yeah, hot.
Anyway, on the subject of strengths: I think that this movie saves itself with its sense of humor. Because there are a lot of moments where it knows how ridiculous and over-the-top it is, and it really leans into them and makes them funny.
Emily: It was really funny when they're freaking out in the restaurant. And the waitress comes in and doesn't see anything and is just like... uh... everything ok back here?
Kelli: The restaurant scene was wild. Some of the monsters in this movie are just... truly indescribable.
Emily: Yeah, and that's what I mean when I say this movie is weird. Like it's insane that this is a mainstream movie when you sit down and think about what is going on in it.
Kelli: Right. This movie is insane. And that's something that I give it credit for. They did not make it any less weird. If anything, it's more weird.
Emily: They even lean in heavier on the dead lights thing than the miniseries did. The book gets kinda sci-fi at the end, and I think we see hints of it here.
Kelli: Right, which makes ABSOLUTELY no sense to me.
Emily: Yeah, it doesn't make that much more sense in the book, honestly. There's a whole thing about a giant turtle too. It's just, you know, madness.
Kelli: Is that why there was a turtle in that classroom?
Emily: Yeah! I think so! There's a whole Stephen King mythos at work here that you kind of just have to let go and accept. Much like his child gang bang.
Emily: Yeah, it's a REALLY WEIRD book.
Kelli: And so, that's the thing. This movie is a fucking mess, but also, would I watch it again? Fuck yeah. I really had fun watching it.
Emily: I also think that's taken from the source material. I just WISH they hadn't done the "split up" thing because it was dumb. But it still didn't feel like a three hour movie.
Kelli: The group I was with was laughing and screaming 'what the fuck!' and just having an awesome time—we were in a sold out theater and at the end people actually clapped, which is hilarious, because that never happens at horror movies.
Emily: Seriously, if I haven't made this clear, horror movies are my favorite, and they need to get more love. I love that these It movies have done so well. It makes me hopeful for the future of horror. That you can get A-list celebs like James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain attached to a project like this is amazing news. Because that's so good it's basically fan casting.
Kelli: Totally. I mean, Bill Hader was literally fan casting. Finn Wolfhard said he wanted him to play him, and he got cast.
Emily: Same with Jessica Chastain. That's who Sophia Lillis wanted.
Kelli: Yeah, and it's also great that Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy (who I'll admit are the only two cast members I follow on instagram) have been promoting this movie like crazy. They're really proud of it. You can tell they all had an amazing time making it.
Emily: It looked like fun.
Kelli: I do want to talk a little bit more about the characters.
Emily: Yeah... I'm just SO DISAPPOINTED they didn't get to interact more. But go ahead. Lol.
Emily: FOREVER SALTY
Kelli: Yeah, that was definitely frustrating.
Emily: "Nice to see you, bye" should have been the name of this movie.
Kelli: That was what made the scene at the restaurant so great.
Emily: Yes and that's from the book so. Maybe do what the book did IDK.
Kelli: But yeah, first I want to talk about Bev.
Kelli: When we see her as an adult, the first thing we realize is that she's in an abusive marriage. Which is obviously an echo of her childhood.
I wish they would have explored this a little bit more. We don't ever really have a moment of her reckoning with it, or recognizing the parallel, or even opening up about it to her friends despite their supposed closeness.
When I was thinking about this, I thought—maybe the reason none of these friends really discuss their traumas with each other is because this is a primarily male-centric friend group and in a lot of male friendships those conversations don't happen because it's not "masculine."
Emily: Yeah, there was a lot of adult character development we missed out on.
Kelli: In service of having more "scary" moments, which was not a worthwhile trade-off.
Emily: Yes. I guess it's hard because we can't have all of that and have time for spooks.
Kelli: I imagine there would be a way to write spooks into moments of connection rather than individual solo spooks, but alas.
Emily: I will say the Bev scene where she returns to her home is in the book. And noticeably, this scene tells us more about her character than some of the other solo scenes.
Kelli: Bev's individual scene was probably the strongest out of all of them.
Emily: Yeah... crazy right?
Emily: One thing that really haunts me about the scene is how when she leaves the house she sees it's all torn down. Or not torn down, but no one's living there. That's eerier to me than the actual monster.
Kelli: But also that woman was terrifying.
Emily: Old people just scare me because I'm afraid of being old. So.
Kelli: Particularly the moment when Bev turns around and we see the woman do some weird-ass movement as she walks into the kitchen. Like, very non-human.
Emily: Yes. How do you feel about the fact that MOST of this scene got spoiled in the trailer?
Emily: Yeah. It sucks.
Kelli: But some of the people I was with hadn't seen that trailer. So it was fun to see their reactions.
Anyway, I also want to talk about Ben. I have a problem with the way this character is presented in all forms of the story, because his big character arc is that he went from being fat to being not fat.
Emily: Yes. I cringed.
Kelli: I love Ben as a character, of course. Other than Bill, he is probably the most kind/tender out of all of them. And he values his friends so much. But it's a bummer that we had to witness soooooo much fat shaming. And not just from bullies, but from his friends—the sort of reverse fat-shaming where it's like, wow, you're not fat anymore, look how hot you are!
For a movie that works hard to be progressive in some areas, they really could have tried harder to update that part of the story.
I was also disappointed-but-not-surprised in the way Mike was treated, because yet again he's barely there despite being the person who brings them all together.
Emily: Yes, and also this was SO CONFUSING. Because in the first movie they took Mike's role as the historian and gave it to Ben. So then in this movie, it made zero sense that Mike was the one who stayed behind and lived in the library. There was no reason to do this aside from taking away screen time from the one character of color. So I find this very frustrating.
Kelli: Totally. ALSO, as one of the friends I saw it with pointed out, they managed to take the only character of color and make HIM the one who stole something from Native Americans. Which, let me just add: I know it was probably in the book because Stephen King loves his ancient burial ground shit, but can we not?
Emily: Yeah, that needed to be updated too.
Kelli: There are so many elements of this story that could be pared down to produce the same basic outcome. We didn't need Native American rituals, and we certainly didn't need Henry Bowers. Remove the offensive shit and replace it with more adult characterization and this movie could have been a lot better.
Emily: I don't understand why everyone's so against Henry Bowers in this movie. Like, he's an important part of the story.
Kelli: Well, not in this version. Maybe if they had made him important. In this version, he's just an obstacle.
Emily: I guess so.
Kelli: We see him at the psych ward, he comes and attacks them, and then Eddie kills him. That's it.
Emily: It just seems like a lot of people have a problem with him being in the movie. And I'm like, well, we need to see what happened to him after he murdered his father honestly. And he was a pawn of It, so it makes sense for him to come back. Also, I like that Eddie kills him, because it shows that Eddie has teeth.
Kelli: That's something we could have used a refresher on, because until this moment I didn't remember that he killed his father. I was like, wait, who died? Why is he getting arrested?
Emily: I LOVED that part in the first movie. I thought it was so eerie how Pennywise comes to him in a television show and tells him to kill his father.
Kelli: Now that you mention it I remember, but I had completely forgotten about that.
Emily: I don't know. I'm defending this part of the movie.
Kelli: I am just almost never interested in bullies or learning more about them. And I felt like they didn't do enough with him in this second part to make it worth his presence.
Emily: It's not about learning about him. He was a very real threat that they still hadn't dealt with entirely.
Kelli: Well, AGREE TO DISAGREE.
Anyway—in terms of changes and updates they DID make, I want to know what you thought about Richie's trajectory.
Emily: Well, I think homophobia is such a huge issue the original material is tackling. So it makes sense to have a character be gay—and be closeted—because so much of this movie is about repression as well.
Emily: And we open up this movie with a really horrific hate crime, and Pennywise feeds on that hate. Sort of like the goop in Ghostbusters 2 (#neverforget)
Kelli: Right. And Pennywise feeds on the fear of ANYONE who feels like an outcast.
I thought it made a lot of sense for Richie, and I was really into this update to the story, particularly because it develops adult Richie and makes him a more full and interesting character. Plus, I think Bill Hader is so, so good here.
Richie has always been sort of a clown, and has had antagonistic relationships with a lot of the other characters, particularly Eddie. The way he treated Eddie makes so much more sense when put in this context.
Emily: Exactly. And a lot of comedians use humor to hide real pain.
Kelli: Yes. And he doesn't communicate it to any of his friends that he was in love with Eddie - which I also think is interesting. There wasn't a big coming out moment or anything, but more of an acceptance within himself. And Eddie's death is already so emotional, but this element really pushed it to another level.
Emily: Yeah ugh I hate that Eddie has to die because I love him.
Kelli: Yes, Eddie and Richie are my faves so I loved how much time and attention they got here. James Ransone is excellent here as well. He really embodies child Eddie, played by Jack Dylan Grazer—who turned in possibly the best performance of the group of children in the original.
Emily: Yes, Eddie was not my favorite in the mini-series. But the performances of this character in the new films really made him for me.
Kelli: Yes, Jack Dylan Grazer really developed that character and is just overall a really great lil actor and I'm very much pulling for his success. He was great in Shazam!, too.
Also I just looked it up and he's a Virgo, which. Of fucking course he is.
Emily: Hahahaha. Eddie is a Virgo.
Kelli: One thousand percent.
Emily: Ben is a Libra. I claim Ben.
Kelli: That makes sense.
Emily: Okay moving on.
Kelli: ANYWAY. Is there anything else we should cover? Oh, well we have to talk about our favorite lines.
Emily: Obviously mine is "you hair is winter fire..."
Kelli: This movie earned an entire star for the moment when Richie calls Pennywise a sloppy bitch.
Emily: Hahaha. I mean he does drool a lot.
Kelli: True. I think this movie is a sloppy bitch. But I love it.
Emily: Yes. I don't know that I love this movie, but it's special to me because the material is special to me. Sort of like... I know in my heart that the film version of RENT is terrible but also I own it and love it because it's RENT.
Kelli: Omg, same.
Emily: Like... does it make any sense? LEAVE ME ALONE LET ME HAVE MY THING. That's my review of this movie.
Stay tuned for more spooks from Emily next week!