it chapter two trailer breakdown

Pennywise the dancing clown is back in a few months with It Chapter Two…and we can’t wait to make his demented acquaintance again. The mood in the Spreckels Theatre in San Diego was heightened before moderator Conan O’Brien took the stage, but it approached something resembling a rock concert when the brand new trailer for Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema’s hotly-anticipated horror sequel premiered. By the time director Andy Muschietti and the cast (the seven members of the “Losers’ Club,” all grown-up) took the stage, the follow-up to the most successful horror film of all time had the audience in the palm of its hand.

By the time you read this, that new trailer will probably be online. But the third annual “ScareDiego” event (a new-ish Comic-Con tradition I hope sticks around for some time) had a lot more to offer everyone in attendance. Several clips from the film screened, showcasing a sequel that looks funny, frightening and offers more of the same…but in a good way. If it’s not broken, why fix it? If this footage is any indication, this movie is going to make a bajillion dollars.

Note: While this article will skim over any reveals and moments that will be best saved for the theaters, consider this your one and only spoiler warning. We’re going to talk about the broad strokes of these scenes and how they played.

Reunion at a Chinese Restaurant

Fans of the original Stephen King novel and the beloved 1990 miniseries will remember this one. 27 years after the events of the first film, the members of the Losers’ Club reunite at a Chinese restaurant called Jade of the Orient. Over giant piles of food, more than a few shots, and plenty of bawdy jokes, the Losers reconnect – and the chemistry that defined the relationships in the first film seems alive and well here. It remains to be seen how the actors fit in their roles in the final cut, but this vertical slice is immediately endearing. Hook, line, and sinker, I instantly bought these actors as the older versions of the kids we loved so dearly in the first movie.

If there’s one performer who impresses the most in this footage, it’s Bill Hader as Richie Tozier, whose immature sense of humor has evolved into a goofy self-deprecation. Hader, an increasingly impressive and adventurous performer, fits a similar mold as Finn Wolfhard and it’s easy to imagine the latter growing into the former. If the other actors connect with such force in the final film, a great deal of the emotional heavy-lifting will be done early as we just accept that these are people we already love.

However, this is a horror movie, so things have to get grim. And they do. Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) reminds his old friends of why they’re here. When people leave Derry, their memories cloud and they simply…forget. So the trauma of the past, Pennywise and all that monstrous jazz, comes washing over them like a tidal wave of terror. Then the group fully realizes that Stan hasn’t joined them. Fans of any previous version know where Stan is before the group figures it out. And they figure it out because their fortune cookies literally spell it out for them in a tense, nerve-y moment, delivering one-word messages that, when arranged correctly, make it all clear.

Would you believe that one of the fortune cookies then grows a spider leg and leaps from its bowl? Because it does.

A Not-So-Fun Funhouse

If the first clip was a welcome remix of a familiar sequence, the second clip proved that It Chapter Two is not afraid to deviate far from the original text. It’s a scene and location not found in the original novel or the miniseries: a county fair, where Pennywise is stalking his latest prey.

The clip begins with Bill Denbrough rushing through the fairgrounds, desperately looking for a young boy. He sees him entering a funhouse and he gives chase, stumbling through a rotating tunnel and dodging automated clown figures that wave back and forth to block a passage. Eventually, he finds himself in a maze of mirrors and glass and that’s when things get really bad.

We see Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) before the characters do: a figure flickering in the background, a face in an impossible reflection, etc. It’s in these moments that the first It excelled and Chapter Two looks to follow suit. Even if the jump scares don’t always land with the intended force, the build-up and the atmosphere just plain works. The sense Pennywise is playing with Bill, stalking his prey and having a grand old time doing it, chills to the bone.

The footage climaxes with Bill finding himself one pane of glass away from the young boy, who himself is one pane of glass away from Pennywise, who makes his introduction by sliding an impossibly long tongue along the glass. The creature then proceeds to bash his head against the glass, slowly at first, and then with impossible, super-human speed, his skull flattening with each impact. Bill screams for Pennywise to take him instead. The glass breaks and Pennywise’s toothy mouth fills the frame.

That final jump scare? It’s okay. It’s fine. Everything leading up to it? Spooky as hell.

Return to Neibolt Street

The final clip was the shortest, but they saved the best for last. The scene finds Bill returning the house on Neibolt Street, the dilapidated and abandoned home that hosted one of the first film’s best set pieces. Bill is furious – something very bad has happened. He’s joined by the other Losers, who refuse to let him go on alone. Inspiring words are shared. A memorable quote from the first movie is delivered by Bill Hader in a cheer-worthy moment I won’t spoil here. The Losers head on in.

The past 27 years have transformed the Neibolt house from a decrepit wreck into an oozing, jungle-like hellscape, complete with sizzling, otherworldly…stuff…pouring down the stairs. Soon enough, the Losers are separated, a door slams, and a handful of the old friends find themselves alone in the kitchen with a rattling refrigerator…a refrigerator that slams open to reveal the broke and twisted body of young Stan (a gruesomely made-up Wyatt Oleff). He demands to know why his friends let him die – right before his head rolls off his body, land across the room, and sprouts spider-legs. Just in case the sick homage to John Carpenter’s The Thing went over anyone’s head, Richie even responds with “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”

Once again, the final scare (Stan’s spider-head lunging at the screen) didn’t do it for me. But everything else? The mood of the house, the eerie visuals, the haunting sight of Stan in the fridge and the gory transformation of his head? All horror gold.

It Chapter Two opens on September 6, 2019.

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