The Losers Versus the Dancing Clown

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I know I promised a blizzard of Ann Wuehler advertising but I went to a movie.

Been hankering since It ended to see how the It saga would end. I wondered what the film maker/s would do to match the young Losers taking on a killer clown from outer space.

[Spoiler. If you haven’t read the book and know nothing about It, by Stephen King, go away.]

After all, the kid portion of this story is so much better than the adult portion. Yeah, I said it. I find the adult versions, even in the book, rather…eh. I think King’s best writing and what makes this book hum, are the kid parts. Where our intrepid seven are young, reckless, brave, profane and just…kids. The adults they morph into lose that sparkle a bit, which is the heart of the book and hey, gets touched upon in the movie. What we can achieve as kids, via imagination, often cannot be duplicated when an adult. Yeah, got it. Know that one.

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Bill Hader as adult Richie. Finn Wolfhard as young Richie

Now, movie one, It, was decidedly creepy, well done, atmospheric, well acted with a cast of mostly kids. And yes, that killer clown, that’s actually some sort of monster haunting Derry, Maine, since way way back. If you don’t know the plot to It, I cannot help you nor do I want to. You can go look it up. I wrote about It, last year. So I’ll spare you all a recap of that.

It, Chapter Two, picks up roughly twenty seven or so years after the events of the last movie. It, [Pennywise the Dancing Clown!] is active and killing again! The Losers took an oath that if It was not dead, they’d return and finish It off. They cut their hands open with a chunk of glass, took a blood oath, as kids do. The only one who stayed behind to be a sort of guard and chronicler of It, or Mike– notices the same patterns as last time, as every time It stirs, [cause he’s researched, kept notes, made charts mapping these patterns!] and he calls the others.

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Adult Losers having dinner. James Ramsone as Eddie, Jay Ryan as Ben, Isaiah Mustafa as Mike, James McAvoy as Bill, Jessica Chastain as Bev and Bill Hader as Richie. 

We get tiny glimpses into the people Beverly, Bill, Richie, Stan, Mike and Eddie have turned into. And of course Ben, who was the Fat Kid. He’s now Handsome and Svelte. And still into Bevvie! Who basically married her dad, as we do get a brief moment with Beverly packing for Derry and her physical fight with her husband Tom, who’s an abusive asshat. There’s a far more in depth take on this in the novel. But in novels you have time to go into backstories in leisurely detail. Not so much in movies with seven different characters to cover.

But I’ve read the book, so I don’t need the refresher courses on Bill the Writer, Ben the Architect, Richie the Comic, Stan the Accountant, Eddie the Driver who Married His Mother by Marrying a Fat Chick, Mike the Librarian and of course Bev the Designer Who Married Her Daddy by Marrying A Mean Guy Who Beats Her.

Okay! Before you think I hated this flick! I didn’t. Oh man, I did not.

There was about three of us in the theatre but to be fair, it was noon on a Tuesday. I snuggled in, as the movie house had put in brand new fancy seating. Comfy wide chair that reclined! A tray in front of you for snacks and drinks! I just needed a knitted throw and my jammies! Okay. Previews, schmiewviews. Whatever! Will Smith fighting himself because his clone is evil?? What? Skipping that. Downton Abbey?? Yes!! Weird Emma Thompson movie trailer for a movie from June. Where she’s a late night talk show host…um, in America? We don’t have those, sweetie. It’s not still June, is it?

It, Chapter Two begins!

We get some reminders of the killer clown, we get Derry having some sort of harvest or fall celebration. And we get, yes, a murder. This same murder started off the It book, the murder of a gay man by Derry locals. This rather gruesome beating, which seemed to go on a long time, ended with the beaten man, Adrian Mellon, being dumped into the river, where Pennywise yanks him out and snacks on him in front of Mellon’s boyfriend who has tried to find Mellon by getting down to the river’s edge, despite being banged up and beaten to a pulp himself.

This death, and murders/missing children prompts Mike to call the Losers.

Now, that opening hate crime is never ever addressed again. It’s just kind of a throwaway crime to advance the plot. Plot– Pennywise is up to his old antics again and hey, we need to finish this clown off once and for all so drop everything and let’s do this.

There’s also two other rather disturbing deaths that I just…eh. Ugh. Both children. Now I know this thing preys mostly on kids. But still.

Let’s get into the Grown Ups. Ben, boring. Bev, eh. Bill is played by James MacAvoy, who I just watched in Split…mm. Eddie, lots of fun. Stan, oh dear. [If you don’t know Stan’s fate, he takes himself out of the equation so to speak.] And Richie…ah, given life by Bill Hader, one of my favorite funny people to slink out of SNL. Richie was perhaps my least favorite character in the book…and here he’s one of my favorites. I’d say that was due to the kid and adult actors frankly.

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The adults in their chorus line. Mike, Richie, Bill, Bev and Ben.

Also, they gave Richie a new direction in the movie that, yes, worked. I think it worked. It added some nuance to an otherwise bland set of adults who just mostly ran around screaming as Pennywise yanked their chains until the Big Finale where they united in a chorus line to sing the big anthem as they tap-killed the clown into puddles of greasepaint. Just kidding! Or am I???

And what was I doing during the antics of Adult Losers [who had all become successful, if not filthy rich sorts] versus Pennywise the Kid Killing Menace? Bawling mostly. Yep. The waterworks went on as adults struggled to reconcile how changed they were to the kids they had been and…yeah. And how relationships among their group had changed or stayed the same. And Richie and Eddie the comic relief and yes, the heart of this film at the end. I could have cared two snots in a single nostril about the Bill-Bev-Ben triangle. Yeah, we get it. She’s attracted to Leader Bill while Sidekick Ben gazes at her with longing adoration and the patience of a trap door spider. And Bev [That’s Ben and Bev’s named combined…yep] end up together because of course they do.

Some of the scares in this movie. Damn. The old lady and Bev. That was…I had actual shivers. It was so quiet and well done and a gradual build up that Something Is Not Right Here. High praise for that. And high praise for the genuinely unsettling Stan’s severed head turns into a spider…spider legs with hands on the end. Fuck! No!

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Bill Skarsgard reprising his role as Pennywise. Sonya Maria Chirila as little girl. Not sure if that’s her name. 

Finally, the scene with the little girl with the birthmark and Pennywise. She tells the clown he’s creepy. Yes! I’m thinking, finally, somebody calls out how damn creepy and repulsive this clown is. But It starts fake sobbing, and whining that everybody hates him because of how he looks…which appeals to the little girl with her vast large bright red birthmark. [Parents didn’t have this removed or plan to? What is this, Victorian England??] I thought she had paint on her face from the town carnival going on. Anyway! Pennywise offers to blow the mark off her face. She trustingly turns to allow this…and CHOMP. God damn it.

So. To sum up, Bill Hader as Richie was fantastic. My take. The rest of the Losers, eh. They were okay. Not nearly as engaging or as fun or as likeable as their predecessors. But that was also true in the book. Maybe they’re not supposed to be. Maybe that’s another message about aging. You lose that appeal! You turn into a too-sensible scaredy cat who just wants rocks in your whiskey and bills paid on time.

We also get a nod to the Ritual of Chud, which seems out of left field, but which will take down Pennywise. Mike shows this to adult Bill [I had to powder my nose, so missed the Back in the Past alien artifact flashback]. The Adult Losers all more or less work toward confronting the clown and ending his million or more years reign of terror. [In the book, It turned out to be female and an egg layer…yep.]

And there were digs all through the movie about bad endings…cause King’s critics have openly said King has weak endings or even bad endings to his novels. Tee hee, now back to the kiddie killer clown that can only be killed by the Ritual of Chud and um…this wasn’t in the first movie. Um. Okay!

Now, I rather like how this movie ended and how Pennywise was [spoiler alert!] defeated. I won’t actually spoil that but it rang true. It echoed back to the first movie, to that power of togetherness and belief that monsters can vanquished. Which echoes the Neil Gaiman quote about the importance of fairy tales—basically that they are important in that such tales show monsters can be fought and conquered. Which is the basic and utter universal appeal of the horror tale…that monsters can be taken down and order restored.

I should also mention a sort of villain, a holdover from the first movie. There’s this rather grand, bloody and nearly operatic intro to the once-kid that terrorized the Losers and Ben in particular. Henry Bowers frees himself [with help from our fave creepy killer clown!] from the state mental hospital to return to Derry to…totally not be anything but a slight hindrance. There’s a premature ejaculation quality here…a lot of promises and fizzle and dribble off to the side sorta arc here.

I remember from the book that he really mucked things up for the adults but here he’s almost another comic relief who’s cray cray and slightly murderous. Eh. Also, we don’t get anything from Bill’s wife or Bev’s husband…both of whom played a slightly bigger part in the book than here.

Fine! Just go read the damn book, Ann!!

I did, so there!

Oh and the film also employs a rather astoundingly numerous set of flashbacks. But they work, pave over, smooth those rough edges of ‘why are they doing that again?’ or ‘who is this person?’ or ‘why should I care when Bev stops to stare into the bathroom with a gaze only echoed on Victoria’s Secret runways by models in thong panties and angel wing attachments?’ We also get to remember why the first movie worked so well as the kid actors figure in these flashbacks…and the adult actors do a competent job of nostalgia, sorrow and determination to end It once and for all.

With that out of the way…in conclusion:

More Bill Hader.

The clown transformations into weird, unsettling crap, well done. That it was at the expense of character development and so forth, well. It is a horror movie. You don’t need characters, you need victims and an intrepid band of such and such or the last remaining survivor to take on the monster/psycho/alien or multiples of said whatever evil force/invading plague.

Which the film makers forgot all about when they made the first It. They instead offered us characters we genuinely liked and cared about. They were not meat for the beast or wisecracking no-layered shills designed solely to look good covered in sexy blood and wounds. [Which crosses over into pornography and sexy fluids splattered here and there and there again. Mm]

So there’s my hasty, long take. I’ll wait until 9/12 to post this. Watching or listening to Pumpkincunt try to look solemn and sad today has actually erased the filter between my brain and fingers so I think I need to work on my screenplay and funnel that fury there. That fucking fuckstain dares give speeches about…fuck you, fuckstain. Just fuck you.

 

We all float down here!

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