It Chapter Two (2019)

This Meeting of the Losers Club Has Officially Begun.

Two years later and we’re back!  And we’re not the only ones!  Although technically they waited 27, but I’m not gonna wait that long to write a review.  And it’s still October and Horrors are still thonning, and today’s movie qualifies.  This movie of course is It Chapter Two, based on a novel by Stephen King, written by Gary Dauberman, directed by Andy Muschietti, and starring Bill Skarsgard, Jessica Chastain, Sophia Lillis, James McAvoy, Jaeden Martell, Bill Hader, Finn Wolfhard, Isaiah Mustafa, Chosen Jacobs, Jay Ryan, Jeremy Ray Taylor, James Ransone, Jack Dylan Grazer, Andy Bean, and Wyatt Oleff.

27 years after the first movie, Pennywise (Skarsgard) has returned to Derry, Maine and is killing again.  And that means the Losers Club – Beverly (Chastain, Lillis), Bill (McAvoy, Martell), Richie (Hader, Wolfhard), Mike (Mustafa, Jacobs), Ben (Ryan, Taylor), Eddie (Ransone, Grazer), and Stanley (Bean, Oleff) – have a promise to keep: to return to Derry and finish what they started 27 years earlier.  But there’s a problem: most of them have been inexplicably forgetting everything about their time in Derry.  And another problem: Stan killed himself when Mike called him.  So not off to a great start…  But anyway, the rest of the Losers get together in Derry and must work together to overcome the otherworldly evil Clown.

I enjoyed It a great deal, and I also enjoyed It Two too…as well…  I suppose I would assume that I enjoyed the first one more, but this movie would be somewhat confusing without that movie first so it gets extra credit.  Also, just the idea of turning that book into 2 movies seems like such a daunting task and they pulled it off admirably, and trying to wrap everything up is also a challenge.  I had few issues as far as the story goes.  One of them was with the Native American ritual.  My first issue with it is that someone made a comment that the ritual was ridiculous.  Yeah?  It’s a ridiculous solution…for your problem with a shapeshifting ghost alien clown?  …But now that you mention it, you do have a point.  Why the hell would a Native American ritual affect an alien?  Another issue I had was with the way they beat Pennywise.  They essentially defeat him by bullying him.  They just mock him until he shrinks and then they rip his heart out.  So maybe they’re even worse than bullies.  I mean, their bully was a complete psychopath, but even he didn’t get much further than cutting the fat boy.  At least not until he came back as an adult.  The last issue I had with this movie is actually an issue with myself.  In the movie, they do a gag when someone busts through a door and does the “Here’s Johnny!” thing.  I am embarrassed to admit that I actually thought for far too long that this movie ripped off the Shining.

A lot of the visual stuff in this movie was very well executed.  Like all those fortune cookie monsters were terrible.  That’s what they were going for, so congratulations.  Also terrible was the way the Losers cut their hands to make their little pact.  All of their scars looked way too big and then when we saw it happen, it looked like they all cut far deeper than was necessary.  A little slice will do ya!  No need to get the hooked piece of glass and really dig into your hand with it like you’re trying to hit some tendons so you don’t have to use it anymore.  You’re making a promise, not trying to get discharged from the military.  Especially since most of the Losers were young boys that are going to really need those hands coming up in puberty times.  Another terrible thing was Stan’s spider transformation later on.  That could haunt the dreams of a lesser man.

My biggest problem with the cast of the movie is similar to one I had with the first movie: I can’t remember which kids are which.  In this movie, I can’t remember which kids are which and I also can’t remember which adult represented which kid.  Except for Beverly.  For some reason, I was always able to tell which one she was.  Otherwise, all the kids and adults were very good in the movie, and a lot of them really worked as adult versions of their kid counterparts.  Chastain was a fairly obvious choice to take over as Bev.  I feel like she was even dream cast in the part by most places before she was officially cast.  She did great in the role though.  I took some issues with the fact that she went back to her old house that was now occupied by an old lady and just took it upon herself to start destroying the old lady’s floorboards to find a poem, but the trailers already let me know that this old lady was Pennywise so she can get a pass on that.  I didn’t think McAvoy looked very much like his kid, but he was probably hired more for the acting.  But maybe he was just cast last minute when they realized they hadn’t cast a Bill yet.  I assume they do this sort of thing since in the movie he was the writer on a movie that they had started shooting before he had even written the ending yet.  I did wonder why Bill would fall for Pennywise’s Georgie trick as an adult though.  When he’d fall for it as a kid, it made more sense, but why are you as an adult seeing Georgie in a sewer and the same age he was 27 years earlier and you think, “Yup!  That’s gotta be the real Georgie!”  I also wanted to say that when Bill was talking to that kid on the skateboard right after that, I was expecting a Pet Semetary style clobbering by a big truck and was very disappointed when it didn’t happen.  Ransone was a pretty good adult version of Grazer, but I kept getting distracted by where I knew Grazer from until I realized he was the kid from Shazam.  Bill Hader was another one I thought was more cast for who he was than his resemblance to Finn Wolfhard, but it was okay because Hader was great.  He acted the bejesus out of his reaction to a character’s death in the end, and he was also a nice comic relief for the rest of the movie.  Also, there was a cool Stephen King cameo!  …That’s all I had to say about it…

It Chapter Two was probably technically not as good as its predecessor, but since they were both taken from one book, I would say it’s best to just put the two movies together and judge them as one, which means that It was a really fun horror movie that was way too long at like 5 and a half or 6 hours altogether.  The story was good, the visuals were great, it was scary-ish I suppose, and it was cast very well.  You probably already have, but if you haven’t, I recommend you go watch it.  And by it, I mean It.  It Chapter Two gets “For 27 years, I dreamt of you. I craved you… I’ve missed you” out of “I guess you could say that was long overdue.  …Get it?  ‘Cause we’re in a library?”

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Sinister (2012)

Don’t Worry, Daddy … I’ll Make You Famous Again.

I actually found myself in a position that I could fulfill a couple of things all at the same time by reviewing one movie.  It’s a horror movie so it goes into the October Horrorthon, it was a request that I could take care of from my friend Kori, and it was also a movie in theaters now and I had not been to the cinema in a while.  The problem that I had was that the movie she requested was one I had never heard of, and I typically won’t honor a request made for a movie in theaters until it comes out on DVD because theaters are too expensive to see things I don’t give a shit about.  At least until I get famous in a couple of months and they start paying to get me to see their movies.  But I talked with my friend Jordan about this request and he said the trailer looked pretty good.  I checked it out and it did actually pique my interest.  Not enough to pay full price for the ticket, but I could certainly be inspired to check it out for $5 at my local theater.  And that’s how I ended up watching Sinister, co-written by C. Robert Cargill, co-written and directed by Scott Derrickson, and starring Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Clare Foley, Michael Hall D’Addario, James Ransone, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Fred Thompson.

The Oswalt family – father Ellison (Ethan Hawke), mother Tracy (Juliet Rylance), daughter Ashley (Clare Foley), and potentially-other-daughter-that-they-claim-is-a-son-but-I’m-not-convinced Trevor (Michael Hall D’Addario) – move into a house that will supposedly help Ellison finish his next novel.  He’s a true-crime novelist who hasn’t had a hit since his first book and has made the creepy and dangerous decision to move into the actual house where the murders his book are about took place, unbeknownst to his family.  Turns out that four members of a family were hanged from a tree in the backyard and the remaining daughter went missing.  Ellison finds a box in the attic that contains several reels of Super 8 footage that start innocently enough but turn into murders.  There’s “Pool Party” where the family plays in the pool and then cut to them tied to deck chairs and being drowned, “BBQ” which starts as a barbecue that cuts to the family being immolated, “Sleepy Time” which is the family tied to the beds and then getting their throats cut, and “Family Hanging Out” which is of the hanging murders.  Inside these videos, Ellison sees a dark figure that is either a demon or a Juggalo, and with that he starts having strange and scary occurrences around the house.

I didn’t build up any sort of expectation for this movie going in, and it met them.  It’s good.  Not great, just good.  It’s not entirely unlike the movies that they put on their poster because they share the same producer (Paranormal Activity and Insidious).  In fact, it’s got a lot of elements that can be found in Insidious.  The evil thing’s whole goal is to lure kids into the spirit world through their dreams, and that is exactly what happened in Insidious.  But I wouldn’t say these movies were too alike.  I guess these kinds of movies are always going to share a few similar themes.  What I did take issue with was that it really didn’t scare, at least not in any way I respect.  I don’t like movies startling me.  It doesn’t take a quality filmmaker to startle someone.  All you really need to do is be really quiet for a little while and then have something pop out.  It generally feels cheap in a movie, even if it is sometimes effective.  They do create tension pretty well to lead up to those moments, but the actual “scary” thing was usually just something popping out or a goofy scene of dead kid ghosts running around a house.  The story of the movie was fine, but certainly not innovative.  It’s all about something evil that kills people for watching a movie.  But this time the evil thing was named Mr. Magoo (Wikipedia says it’s Bughuul, but I know what I heard) and not Samara from The Ring.  And they also spent an awful lot of time on the other part of the story: Ellison wanting to write a new hit book.  But that part of the story got me annoyed right from the start.  First, why would you ever intentionally move into a place where you know people were murdered?  I don’t necessarily believe in ghosts, but I also don’t believe in finding out the hard way.  And his whole idea of moving there to help him write his story about it seems like bullshit.  I’m writing this review about the movie, but I didn’t have to move into a haunted house to do it because I can just use my imagination.  And this whole thing started to ruin his family life, but I didn’t feel like he was that interested in that even though he acted like he was because I think he was trying to kill his son/daughter, Trevor.  Early on in the movie (and it’s actually one of the scarier parts) he finds his kid in a box that he didn’t know how he got in because the kid has night terrors (that also have nothing to do with the movie).  Later, when he hears a noise upstairs, Ellison starts vigorously looking through boxes with a knife trying to find the source of the noise.  If your kid was pulling the same nonsense, you would’ve stabbed him in the face.  And I wouldn’t really have minded.

The look of the movie was a little hit or miss for me.  I appreciated the movie because the amount of time they relied on gore for scares was nearly non-existent, but the product placement was really starting to bug me.  Apple either fully funded this movie or the people making it are just fully in love with it.  Ellison spent 90% of the movie either on his Mac or using his iPhone.  I liked when he used his iPhone though because I could totally relate to it.  Instead of having an actual flashlight for one scene, he used the flashlight app on his phone.  I do that all the time.  I have flashlights all over the place in my house too, but they’re not on me 24/7 like my phone is.  But the Apple stuff actually leads to a plot hole that I found.  When Ellison is trying to wipe his hands of the whole situation, he deletes the stuff off of his Mac.  You know Time Machine won’t let you actually delete stuff!  Apple thinks you’re retarded!  Another thing that really worked my nerves in this movie was that they felt the need to show us how everything was being activated with a series of quick cut montage edits that seemed straight out of Hot Fuzz, except Hot Fuzz knew they were doing it out of comedy.  I started to get the feeling that the filmmakers really wanted me to know how to use a Super 8 projector because they had to show us exactly how the film was spooled in, then the lens clicks into place, then you spool it through the bottom reel, and then you flip the switch to turn it on.  How do I know that even though I’ve never seen a reel to reel projector in real life?  ‘Cause this movie wouldn’t accept me leaving without that knowledge.  And then they started doing it with the coffee machine too.

I can’t say I had any problem with any of the performances in the movie.  They were all either fine or good.  Ethan Hawke was not a likeable character, but he did a good job at the character.  He spent most of the movie being terrified by stuff, but he did a good job of it.  I just didn’t like that his character kept watching old video of him saying that he values the justice his books bring so much over the fame, but then would risk his family’s life to get another hit.  I guess that’s just making the character more human though.  Juliet Rylance tended to get on my nerves, but I think I take a negative stance on any lady in a movie that is a buzz kill.  If he listened to you, there wouldn’t be a movie.  So shut up and get to dying.  Though his part in the movie was not that big, I liked James Ransone as the Deputy.  He was funny and vaguely dimwitted, but not so much so that it was unrealistic.

Sinister was a bit of a risk for me, going in with completely no idea what I was in for, but I would say it was not without its charms.  I just don’t know if I’m confident saying those charms were enough to recommend seeing it in theaters.  The story seemed to take a lot from other horror movies like The Ring and Paranormal Activity, but the comparisons were not so overwhelming that I’d say it was the same movies.  The performances were also good.  I guess the biggest problem was that the scares were mostly cheap and not much more than startles.  I don’t regret seeing this movie in theaters, but I also would’ve been completely comfortable waiting to RedBox it.  Sinister gets “Children exposed to these images were especially vulnerable to Magoo’s abductions” out of “That symbol is associated with a Pagan deity named Magoo.”

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