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IT: Chapter 2

Back in the 1980’s, several films derived from the works of horror writer Stephen King conjured their own brand of terror. Poorly written, acted and directed several King adaptations have gone down into infamy. Due to technology finally reaching his imagination, recent works have been much better. ‘IT: Chapter 2’ is a fair addition. Following on from 2017’s ‘IT’, this outing does its best to restore King’s horrific reputation.

Twenty-seven years after his apparent demise, Pennywise the Clown (Bill Skarsgard) returns for more carnage. Now adults, Bill (James McAvoy), Beverly (Jessica Chastain) and Ben (Jay Ryan), the Losers Club who defeated him last time, must once again face their fears. Among them are). Spooky vengeance is on Pennywise’s agenda with his prey needing all their strength to defeat him once and for all.

Directed by Andy Muschietti, ‘IT: Chapter 2’ promises much but delivers little. On the plus ledger is Skarsgard’s performance as Pennywise. A memorable villain in the style of Freddy Kruger from the ‘Nightmare in Elm Street’ films, the movie lights up whenever he appears. Unfortunately it isn’t as much as hoped with the story instead generally concentrating on the adult Losers Club, who are an unmemorable and dreary lot.

‘IT: Chapter 2’ repeats much of what happened previously. There’s a definite ‘seen it all before’ vibe, which the near three hour run-time highlights. There are flashes of inspired mayhem however with Muschietti showing flair in several large set-pieces. ‘IT: Chapter 2’s biggest problem is that it isn’t that scary, with the gargantuan length provoking more fear than what’s on screen.

Far better than some appalling shockers of the ‘80’s, ‘IT: Chapter 2’ doesn’t disgrace the King canon. It isn’t brilliant either as it occasionally threatens to turn into a lesson in horrific boredom. But those wanting to see vague thrills amongst personal trauma should enjoy a film that doesn’t do the clown industry any favours.

Rating out of 10: 6

Crawl

Since ‘Jaws’ stormed the cinema box office in 1975 dozens of imitators have surfaced. The ‘natural beast on the loose’ formula since has spawned its own genre. There are too many to mention with ‘Crawl’ the latest variant in an ever-expanding movie world. No less tense or implausible, ‘Crawl’ offers ghoulishly fun thrills proving that in films, it’s never safe to go into the water.

Haley (Kaya Scodelario) is an expert swimmer studying at a university in Florida. Estranged from her father Dave (Barry Pepper), she nevertheless checks in on him when a massive storm breaks. Discovering him in peril at home, Haley uses her skills to save him. She doesn’t count on Mother Nature’s relentless fury as well as a group of angry alligators ready to strike.

Alexandre Aja directs ‘Crawl’ with tongue very firmly in cheek. That’s just as well as it’s occasionally difficult to believe the dilemmas the characters face. It’s part of the charm of these films as you go along for the ride in wondering how they’ll survive the oncoming onslaught. If you can overcome the huge leaps of logic, ‘Crawl’ becomes a solid time-waster with decent scares and people to care for.

In what is essentially a two person cast, Scoderlario and Pepper give strong performances. Their roles conjure genuine believability with both giving it their all in what must have been a strenuous shoot. The CGI alligators and scenery are amazingly rendered and help move the brisk plot towards a tension packed finale.

‘Crawl’ may be derivative of ‘Jaws’ in places, including lifting some of its dialogue, but its stream-lined escapism is welcome. Filled with drama, thrills and a dash of ridiculousness, it’s a swift human vs nature battle. It may put you off going into the water like ‘Jaws’ with cinema’s fierce aquatic creatures always difficult to eradicate.

Rating out of 10: 7