By: Claudia Larsen
Audiences were both captivated and utterly freaked out by the 2017 film adaptation of Stephen King’s classic horror novel “It.” With a box office profit of about $190 million so far, “It Chapter 2” has not been as heavy of a hit, but shouldn’t be overlooked by fans of the first film.
A remake of the 1990 two-part miniseries, “It” was a masterpiece of modern horror and left audiences craving another installment that promised to be just as terrifying. However, audiences were disappointed with the second film, giving it a score of 63% on Rotten Tomatoes, as the second film is much less horror than the first. Even though the two films seem very different in tone and horror content, they are both very book accurate and in-depth.
King’s “It” plays out in two very different manners: the first half being more horror and action, and the second half being more so an introspective look at the effects of trauma on adulthood. While “It Chapter 2” may not seem as outwardly horror as the first film, looking into the themes and ideas presented is a truly scary experience.
“It” introduces the idea of acknowledging and confronting childhood trauma, in the manifestation of the freaky clown Pennywise. As the losers club run into Pennywise throughout the film, he appears to them as their worst fears, which are usually a direct reference to the trauma they are currently experiencing. As they fight It, they are acknowledging the trauma they are experiencing and confront them head-on.
“It Chapter 2” is designed to continue this theme, with a commentary on how simply pushing down and forgetting trauma is not actually getting over it and moving on, just as pushing Pennywise down the well did not kill it. In “It Chapter 2” Each member of the losers club of the first film lives a foil of their childhood life in the second film, reflecting a cycle of repetition of a trauma they experienced and was magnified by It’s influence. Eddie was raised by a mother with Munchausen by-proxy syndrome, and grows up to marry a woman with the same overprotective and suffocating disposition. Similarly, Beverly is raised by an abusive father, and goes on to marry an abusive husband. As the losers club fight and defeat It in this film, they are accepting their trauma and finally moving on by killing its influence on their lives, both metaphorically and physically.
So yes, “It Chapter Two” is not as scary as the first film, but that is solely because it was design by King himself to carry a different tone and idea behind it. If you’re ever interested in learning what King was truly trying to accomplish with “It,” check out his novel, but be prepared for quite a long read.