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Film Review: Why ‘IT Chapter 2’ Might Just Be The Most Honest Stephen King Adaptation Ever

I know many of you are reading that headline and saying to yourself – “that damn fanboy Dreher – Stephen King could shit in a bag and throw it at him and he would find a way to praise it” – and you wouldn’t be wrong – I love Stephen King, his literary voice, his honesty, his ability to make it feel like he’s talking just to me, it’s a feeling that most all of us “constant readers” have grown to cherish.

Often times though – when the movie adaptations of these beloved stories come around – we don’t feel that connection – King’s voice gets lost in the muddled voices of the screenwriters, the director, the money men. I would venture to say that this happens more often than not for us “constant readers” and when someone gets it right – when they find King’s voice in their own storytelling style – it’s the stuff of magic – and therein lies the biggest strength of IT Chapter Two.

Already heard more than enough critics and fans pan the film – not enough Pennywise – too long – too much exposition and to all of you I say – bull shit!

IT Chapter Two is a near perfect retelling of King’s novel – while some liberties are taken – the connection to the characters and to King’s original message of the pains and tribulations of childhood – and the strength of true friendship shines through like a flashlight in a gloomy sewer. I love the Losers – I relate to the Losers and in this film I feel every pain and celebrate every victory – just like I did when I read the novel so many years ago.

Technically – the film is beautiful – I loved some of the transition shots – the puzzle transition (you’ll know it when you see it) is one of the most imaginative shots I’ve seen filmed in recent memory – and there are several others that are equally as breathtaking. But this flick isn’t all just fancy camera work and great writing – they do not skimp on the scares and the gore – the opening moments where a gay couple are harassed by a bunch of rednecks is graphic and very difficult to watch – and it leads to our first outing with Pennywise – which is horrific and gory in a completely different way.

The first third of the film reacquaints us with the Losers and brings us up to speed with were the last 27 years have taken them – they all think they’ve moved on when in actuality – while they may have left Derry – Derry had never left them – and watching them all come to that realization is both fascinating and heart-breaking. The mid-part of our tale splits our club up as they separately need to revisit their childhood stomping grounds – and all the fears and pain they had run away from – in search of ammunition that will be needed to defeat Pennywise and the Deadlights.

These stand-alone character moments – and their interaction with the evil that is Pennywise are among the films best moments – Richie’s run-in in the park is great fun – and classic King. I really enjoyed all the segments in this portion of the film but Bill Hader truly does shine in the park segment and rises above his fellow actors from that point on.

If there was any segment that had me concerned – it was the ending. The miniseries suffered greatly from the ending created for it – and in all honesty – this film doesn’t end all that differently but – the characters as so much better developed this time around – and our investment in their outcomes so heavily fostered, it becomes so much more than about Pennywise being defeated – it becomes about friendship and love conquering all – just like in the novel.

I personally don’t consider this next part a spoiler but – in this age of non-stop internet bitching and rampant butt hurt – I feel the need to say that I’m about to give something away that in no way effects the outcome of the story but – if you don’t want to know a nice little surprise – go away.

For me – the cameo by Stephen King was the highlight of the film – I loved everything about it – I loved King’s lightning-quick dialogue, I loved the interaction between his character and Bill – I loved the fact that Christine’s license plate was hanging on the wall above him – I loved the whole damn scene. King is no stranger to being in front of the camera but I would say that this outing is his best since Creepshow – and possibly his best ever.

IT Chapter Two is a film for Stephen King fans – it’s a film for people who can relate to King and his idealistic vision of the strength of childhood and friendship. When I hear someone bashing this film I know for a fact that they are not a true fan of what Stephen King has been providing us – that they don’t get it – and it makes me feel good to be part of the gang that does.

Strong performances across the board – as I mentioned – and as you’ve probably heard over the course of the last few days – Bill Hader really comes into his own as Ritchie but I was equally impressed with Teach Grant who bring the adult version of Henry Bowers to frightening life. He’s not in the film a lot but – you’ll remember his scenes after you’ve viewed them.

As a fan of King – as a fan of the story – there is so much to love about IT Chapter Two – this is a film I will be watching over and over again in the coming years and I look forward to this version of the Loser’s Club being a part of my life from this point forward.

*beep – beep*

Dave Dreher
Co-Founder / Lead News Reporter at Gruesome Magazine
Dave is co-founder and lead news reporter for Gruesome. Dave has built his resume working for Diabolique Magazine, The Horror Channel, Horrornews.net, House of Horrors and Creature Corner. He has worked with Tom Savini on his official site since 1997 and is also co-host of the popular podcast Horror News Radio.
Dave Dreher
Dave is co-founder and lead news reporter for Gruesome. Dave has built his resume working for Diabolique Magazine, The Horror Channel, Horrornews.net, House of Horrors and Creature Corner. He has worked with Tom Savini on his official site since 1997 and is also co-host of the popular podcast Horror News Radio.
http://gruesomemagazine.com