It Chapter Two

I strongly disliked Muschietti's first entry, which was a profound betrayal of its source material and a lackluster horror movie on its own terms. It was a snarky and cynical Stranger Things cash-in, conceptually and emotionally hollow.

Since this follow-up exists in relation to the previous entry, it's forced to consider the novel's fundamental dealings with memory, trauma and collective unconsciousness. It also contends more soberly with its source's reflections on socially cultivated oppression and surplus repression; where its predecessor's horror is airless and offhand, this film is less afraid to venture into disturbing territory. In some key scenes, the violence actually hurts, and it should.

Yes, it falls into some unfortunate traps that are typical of contemporary American horror cinema--there's an overload of quippery and ironic distancing, and the scares are clumsily handled--but it also engages with its source's spurious, frenzied energy and its all-out cosmic mysticism. It's a suitably wacky film, sometimes sloppy but frequently beautiful, unafraid of King's sentimental poetics and off-kilter '80s sensibility.

Despite all reservations, I ended up sorta kinda really liking it.

[Note: for anyone who's interested, my essay "Collective Abjection: Social Horror in Stephen King's It" is included in Thinking Horror: Volume 2]

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