The Much Anticipated It Sequel Promotes Queerness While Scaring The Heck Out Of Us
WARNING: This article contains spoilers from the recent release of It: Chapter Two
It’s been two years since the first remake of Stephen King’s It was released. Over the weekend, the sequel, and finale, It: Chapter Two, busted into theatres and is surprisingly full of gay and queer themes.
Right off the bat, the film has a horrifying opening scene. It may not be a gory beginning, but it’s pretty brutal. Why? Well, it starts off with a hate crime involving two young boyfriends that is in fact a true story which happened in King’s hometown. During a townie festival, adorable gay couple Adrian Mellon (Xavier Dolan) and Don Hagarty (Taylor Frey) get into an argument with some homophobic youngsters after gifting a child with a winning carnival prize. The argument eventually turns into the rag tag gang viciously beating the couple and tossing Adrian over a bridge. Beaten to the point of death, obviously full of fear, what It’s titular evil clown Pennywise feeds on. Don watches on in horror as Adrian is eaten alive/dismembered by Pennywise. It’s gruesome. On top of being induced with fear of a simple horror film… we get to witness a brutal hate crime against gay people. Immediately, I have goosebumps. This isn’t going to be an easy watch.
If you’re familiar with the original novel, mini-series, or know have been following the hype of the sequel, you’ll know that the kids who once defeated It are now adults and must face him again. We get some real-life backstories of the adults, including depression, abuse, and unhappiness. While they all have careers and success, none of the friends have found ultimate happiness, potentially because of their past dealing with It.
After uniting rather quickly, the group gets the unfortunate news that one of them, Stanley Uris (Andy Bean) has committed suicide, thus weakening their core group as they venture to defeat It. There is a ton of comedy, mostly in the form of Bill Hader’s Richie Tozier, a now-mediocre standup comic, and James Ransone’s Eddie Kaspbrak, a hypochondriac with an overbearing wife. It’s sometimes hard to not bust out laughing and realizing you are watching a horror film and not a comedy. The chemistry between the adults truly makes you believe they grew up together. The film goes where some horror films don’t: Kids are dying in terrifying, gory ways. It is certainly a predator and the only ones who can defeat him are our team of adult misfits, or as they call themselves: The Losers. In the end we get a grand finale and It is conquered.
When you aren’t being mesmerized by the performances from the always-outstanding Jessica Chastain or chameleon James McAvoy, you’ll get to gawk over former National Football League player, Isaiah Mustafa, and newcomer (and delicious) Jay Ryan. But, hunky guys and stellar acting chops can’t defer us from the amazing, not-so-hidden love storyline between Hader and Ransone’s characters.
A large plot in the film is the losers having to find a token from their past that represents an important part of their childhood. Hader’s Richie ventures to an old arcade, where he played the Street Fighter game with a young boy who he had a crush on. The boy mocks Richie for being a “fairy” (talk about taking us back to the ‘90s homophobic comments) after other boys begin to ridicule them. While in chase, It reveals Richie has been hiding his homosexuality his entire life. This fact makes us love the scene-stealing character even more.
The banter between Richie and his pal Eddie provides most-to-all of the comedy within It’s sequel. What makes their back-and-forth so much more special is the underlying love Richie has for Eddie, literally. We eventually learn Richie has been crushing on Eddie since their youth, including having them snuggle up in a hammock together in their Loser clubhouse. Eddie is the person who receives most of Richie’s abuse and it becomes apparent that stems from the latters love interest. While Eddie may not openly reciprocate feelings, it’s obvious he is the one most unhappy in his adult life with his job and wife… so the cards are there, but nothing gets unturned. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see Richie and Eddie blossom, because Eddie is the last person to be murdered by It before It perishes. Richie gives an emotional final performance as he tries saving Eddie, sobbing through the film’s end. We have one last glimpse of their should-have-been-love as Richie re-carves his and Eddie’s initials into a wooden bridge. I won’t lie to you, I cried. This film is brilliant and will make you second guessing if any of your friend’s has a life-long crush on you.
It: Chapter Two is currently in theatres – and trust me, the three-hour long film, is worth every penny to go see.
Writer’s Note: This is the opinion of one Instinct Magazine contributor and does not reflect the views of Instinct Magazine itself or fellow contributors.