THE BIG SCREEN

Hel­lish tale re­peats it­self in slug­gish sec­ond act of hor­ror clas­sic

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - ENTERTAINM­ENT -

IT CHAPTER TWO (15)

IN an early scene of di­rec­tor Andy Muschi­etti’s over-long re­turn to the high­est-gross­ing hor­ror film of all time, an emo­tion­ally crip­pled char­ac­ter – a nov­el­ist turned screen­writer – be­comes the butt of a run­ning joke about his in­abil­ity to write a sat­is­fy­ing end­ing.

Stephen King, who cameos in the se­quel as the pro­pri­etor of a musty an­tiques store, weath­ered sim­i­lar crit­i­cism for the res­o­lu­tion to his 1986 book, It.

Screen­writer Gary Dauber­man doesn’t stray far from the well-trod­den path of the source text and con­demns It Chapter Two to a fan­tas­ti­cal fi­nal flour­ish that will come as a re­lief to au­di­ences who have slogged through more than two-and-ahalf hours of on-screen calamity.

The open­ing se­quence – a bru­tal and un­flinch­ing hate crime – is the stuff of mod­ern-day night­mares and sends a shud­der of fear down the spine that rip­ples de­li­ciously as grown-up in­car­na­tions of the char­ac­ters are drawn back to the fic­tional town of Derry in Maine.

Sins of the past echo cru­elly in the present for one vic­tim of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and a di­a­bol­i­cal preda­tor preys on a lit­tle girl’s in­se­cu­ri­ties about her looks with scalpel-like pre­ci­sion.

Once the re­luc­tant he­roes di­vide to con­quer their fears, ten­sion dis­si­pates and the run­ning time be­comes a gen­uine test of en­durance de­spite ster­ling per­for­mances from a teary-eyed Jes­sica Chas­tain and James McAvoy.

It has been 27 years since the swel­ter­ing sum­mer of 1989 when teenage mem­bers of the Losers Club – Ben Hanscom (Jeremy Ray Tay­lor), Bev­erly Marsh (Sophia Lil­lis), Bill Den­brough (Jae­den Lieber­her), Ed­die Kasp­brak (Jack Dy­lan Grazer), Mike Han­lon (Cho­sen Ja­cobs), Richie Tozier (Finn Wolfhard) and Stan­ley Uris (Wy­att Ol­eff ) – banded to­gether to de­feat Pen­ny­wise the clown (Bill Skars­gard).

‘If it isn’t dead, if it comes back, we come back too,’ de­clares Bill to the rest of the gang, slic­ing a shard of bro­ken glass into each of their palms to seal a blood oath.

Hel­lish his­tory re­peats in 2016 and Mike (now played by Isa­iah Mustafa), who has re­mained in Derry as the town’s li­brar­ian, sum­mons other mem­bers of the Losers Club to re­visit their dark­est night­mare.

Ben (Jay Ryan), Bev­erly (Chas­tain), Bill (McAvoy), Ed­die (James Ran­sone), Richie (Bill Hader) and Stan­ley (Andy Bean) take his call, their me­mories of the past wiped in the in­ter­ven­ing years.

It doesn’t take long for Pen­ny­wise to draw suc­cour from the group’s mount­ing dread.

Punc­tu­ated by myr­iad flash­backs, It Chapter Two could com­fort­ably ex­cise 30 min­utes of dra­matic fat to quicken the pace of a slug­gish sec­ond act.

The shock value of the se­quel’s nerve-jan­gling cen­tre­piece – Bev­erly’s visit to her child­hood home – is dulled by its prom­i­nent in­clu­sion in a teaser trailer.

Skars­gard’s ric­tus grin still un­set­tles and there is no deny­ing the queasy rel­e­vance of King’s nar­ra­tive, which warns against mob men­tal­ity in a so­ci­ety riven by scare-mon­ger­ing and in­tol­er­ance.

Any resid­ual coul­ro­pho­bia – fear of clowns – is com­fort­ably cured, how­ever, in be­tween ner­vous glances at watches and per­haps a sti­fled yawn.

Jes­sica Chas­tain as Bev­erly Marsh in IT Chapter Two.

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