Is this the best horror movie of the year? Well it’s definitely better than Ma and Escape Room, and scarier than Happy Death Day 2 U and Child’s Play. The only one that can really match it is Us, which I loved. I think this Us is better, but only marginally. It’s not so much what this film is lacking which brings it down, it’s what it contains; far too much. This film is far, far too long. It’s almost 3 hours long and doesn’t need to be. There’s a lot of padding, a lot of repeating what we already know, and a lot of things that don’t go anywhere. Not just scenes, there are entire sub-plots which aren’t really necessary. Yes, it was good to see Henry Bowers as a psychopathic adult, but it barely adds anything to the plot and if you cut it out it wouldn’t really affect the plot. He may have been important in the book, but they’ve changed over things, and he was so ineffectual that I don’t think anybody would have really missed him. The opening is also a waste of time, if I’m being honest. It’s about two gay characters being attacked by a homophobic gang, ending in one of the two being thrown off a bridge where his partner witnessed him being attacked by Pennywise. It looks like the gang of homophobic assholes are going to be a big fixture in this film, like Bowers was in the first film, but they never appear again. Also not appearing again; the surviving character. He witnesses his partner being eaten by Pennywise, and is never seen again in the film. He could have been an important part, an outsider in the Losers club.
Despite the excessive runtime, there are a lot of things that are underutilised, one of which is Pennywise himself. There is also a problem with consistency, you’re not quite sure whether things are real or illusions, so you don’t know whether things have consequences, and it’s arguable about whether the film itself even knows. It also features possibly one of the most embarassing scenes in 2019 horror when a really tense moment suddenly has a really out-of-place use of the song “Angel Of The Morning” in a way that I think was supposed to be comedic, but it didn’t really work at all as it was the coda of a really intense section.
Arguably, I think this film would have been better as a trilogy. The first one as the younger characters, the second one as the older, and the third switching between the two (or switch the third and second one). There’s too much story to tell so you can’t do it all in this period of time. For this to have worked they would have needed to make all 3 at the same time, which would be fine. It also would have cut down on the flashbacks in this movie, which threaten to overrule the story. It’s hard for a lot of the flashback scenes to work that effectively because they lack tension. The reason for this is because we know the characters survive as we’ve seen the older versions of them, so we know that no matter what, nothing too bad will happen.
Despite that, despite ALL that, I did really enjoy this film. When it was creepy it was incredibly unsettling, and when it was funny it was very funny (with two notable exceptions). The performances are also great, McAvoy continues to be one of the best performers in every movie he’s in, all the cast from the first movie continue to be great too. The real MVP though; Bill Hader. I didn’t know he had this performance in him, he nails every aspect of the character. His jokes, his guilt, and his insecurity are played perfectly by him.
It does also feature a semi-distracting Stephen King cameo though. Although that cameo does consist of him telling a character who is clearly based on him “I like your books but your endings suck”, which made me laugh. So yeah, definitely go see this, preferably at the cinema for the best experience.