Movie Review: Pennywise as a therapy clown?

Pennywise is back, and he is once again beckoning for young and old to follow his red balloons into the nearest movie theater. “It Chapter Two” takes on many different roles: a horror film, a narrative study of fear and a call for self-acceptance. Although the film had some pacing issues and over-emphasized the same theme from the first installment, the Stephen King-inspired movie offers viewers a chance for both introspection and retrospection.

From a narrative perspective, the process and path that the actors take to fight Pennywise (27 years after the first movie was set) is repetitive and drags viewers along, rather than keeping them on the edge of their seats. This is probably a result of editing more than anything because the acting is great, the visuals are on point and the writing perfectly matches the tone of the first movie.

After the sensational casting in the first film, the casting directors had their work cut out for them, but they surpassed expectations. The new adult cast mirrors their childish selves perfectly. The combination of visual, dialogical and personality driven acting leads viewers to see the film as a character-driven, life-like story, rather than a plot-driven character development are the themes of fear and regret which allow the audience a chance for introspection.

As children, the “losers club” had discovered that It thrived on fear. When they refused to be afraid of the clown, his power diminished. Now, having forgotten this, the characters must rediscover how to refuse fear. For each of the seven major characters this is different. One character must stop blaming himself for his brother’s death and another must break away from an abusive husband while another character needs to open up about his sexuality and still another must leave his negative image behind. Through this breadth of characters, the film provides many opportunities for audience to cathartically see themselves in the film. Thus, audience members are encouraged by one character to “[b]e true. Be brave. Stand. Believe” in themselves and the people around them.

Along with introspection, “It Chapter Two” also prompts retrospection. Since all of the main characters have forgotten about Pennywise, they have also forgotten that they were friends. Thus, the film’s process is about characters rediscovering the magic of youth and youthful friendships. Since when did a horror film make viewers want to reconnect with old friends or send a text to an old buddy? Leave it to “It” to make people value others and themselves.

Movie Facts:

  • Director: Andy Muschietti
  • Staring: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Andy Bean, Bill Skarsgård
  • Genre: Supernatural horror film
  • Based on: “It” by Stephen King – Run-time: 169 min.
  • Rated R
Bill Skarsgård as Robert “Bob” Gray / Pennywise the Dancing Clown.

By Blake Hawkins