Horror returns as cameras roll on Stephen King’s ‘IT: Chapter Two’

Principal photography has begun on New Line Cinema’s IT: Chapter Two director Andy Muschietti’s follow-up to 2017’s critically acclaimed and massive worldwide box office hit “IT,” which grossed over $700 million globally. Both redefining and transcending the genre, “IT” became part of the cultural zeitgeist as well as the highest-grossing horror film of all time.

Because every 27 years evil revisits the town of Derry, Maine, “IT: Chapter Two” brings the characters—who’ve long since gone their separate ways—back together as adults, nearly three decades after the events of the first film. Bill Skarsgård returns in the seminal role of Pennywise. James McAvoy (“Split”) stars as Bill, Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty,” “Mama”) as Beverly, Bill Hader (HBO’s “Barry”) as Richie, Isaiah Mustafa (TV’s “Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments”) as Mike, Jay Ryan (TV’s “Mary Kills People”) as Ben, James Ransone (HBO’s “The Wire”) as Eddie, and Andy Bean (“Allegiant,” Starz’ “Power”) as Stanley.

READ MORE: Movie Review: IT (2017)

Reprising their roles as the original members of the Losers Club are Jaeden Lieberher as Bill, Wyatt Oleff as Stanley, Sophia Lillis as Beverly, Finn Wolfhard as Richie, Jeremy Ray Taylor as Ben, Chosen Jacobs as Mike, and Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie.

Muschietti directs from a screenplay by Gary Dauberman (“IT,” “Annabelle: Creation”) based on the novel by Stephen King. Barbara Muschietti, Dan Lin and Roy Lee are producing the film. Marty Ewing, Seth Grahame-Smith and David Katzenberg are the executive producers.

The behind-the-scenes creative team includes director of photography Checco Varese (“The 33”), Oscar-winning production designer Paul D. Austerberry (“The Shape of Water”), editor Jason Ballantine (“IT,” “Mad Max: Fury Road”), and Oscar-nominated costume designer Luis Sequeira (“The Shape of Water,” “Mama”).

Production will take place in Toronto, Canada.

Set to open in Philippine cinemas beginning September 5, 2019, “IT: Chapter Two” is a New Line Cinema production. It will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.


‘Adrift’ review: The resilience of love against all odds

The clever use of two juxtaposed timelines in ‘Adrift’ largely succeeds in telling a survival story that is both suspenseful and sweet.

Adrift is based on a true story of love and survival. In 1983, two wandering souls, Tami Oldham and Richard Sharp, inadvertently sailed into the eye of Hurricane Raymond thereby stranding themselves in the middle of Pacific Ocean for 41 days. The film kicks off in the aftermath of the disaster – a disoriented Tami wakes up in a banged up boat with no sight of Richard. She wails with grief and desperation then the scene cuts back to an earlier time when they first met in Tahiti. From then, the narrative strategy becomes clear – to justify a survival story fueled by love, the film balances both aspects of romantic bliss and harrowing nightmare by flipping back and forth between two timelines (before and after the hurricane). It largely works, especially in aid of the satisfying third act revelation. However, in some instances, these erratically juxtaposed flashbacks diffuse the tension in the present. And for a survival film, you’ll need as much tension as you can muster.

That is not to say that the film does not have the sufficient amount of stakes to make it feel real. It actually shines in the illustration of the couple’s survival. Richard, the more experienced sailor, becomes the dead weight – he sustains a shattered leg and a broken rib cage, while the less experienced Tami does all the work. She has to rescue him, tend to their wounds, repair the sinking vessel, ration the dwindling supplies, catch some fish (coincidentally, she’s vegetarian) and resort to old-school navigation (i.e. relying on wind direction with no functioning motor or GPS at hand). Not to mention that the couple are constantly wet, sunburnt, seasick (and occasionally hallucinating) all at the same time. It’s easier watched than done.

While most true to life seafaring films like the The Finest Hours relegates its women to worried wives and relatives, Adrift feels refreshing because it places the female lead right to the center of action. Having starred in the Divergent franchise, Shailene Woodley is no stranger to strong independent roles but in here, she displays a performance that is stripped of vanity yet never lacking in grace. It also helps that the film plays on two timelines and we get to have a full spectrum of her character depth and range.

She shares a palpable chemistry with the melancholic Sam Claflin (who reminds us of a similar motionless role he played in Me Before You). Tami and Richard are both free-spirited drifters driven to sea by pure wanderlust and for the most part, the ensuing romance feels familiar – as if something that can be lifted from a Nicholas Sparks novel. This may not be the film’s strongest suit but it does enough to justify their whole relationship arc (from honeymoon phase to hopelessness), emphasizing the resilience of their love through thick and thin.

Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur shows restrain in crafting a small-scale seafaring drama. By Hollywood blockbuster standards, the film could have entertained more with an elaborate plot or extreme cinematic thrills (sharks, anyone?) but part of its sincerity and intimacy comes from the subtle execution. To focus more on the story, he shoots the climatic storm sequence in the perspective of his characters rather than showcasing a full bravado of nature’s ferocity. For the aftermath scenes, cinematographer Robert Richardson is given more freedom to throw breathtaking yet uneasy bird-eye views of the ocean, reminding the viewers of its splendor and vastness. Also, one can say that the director and the cinematographer worked well together when most of the shots are limited to the fairly-sized boat, yet it still feels dynamic and multi-faceted.

Adrift easily evokes memories from recent survival films like the majestic love story of Jack and Rose in Titanic, the sumptuous imagery and religious awakenings in Life of Pi, the level of character introspection in 127 hours, the suspense and catharsis in Gravity, or Leonardo DiCaprio’s death-defying Oscar quest in The Revenant. Adrift does not steer into the uncharted territories of its subgenre, and it certainly can’t compete with any of those films mentioned but it still earns its merit being it is based on a true story. It remains to be a solid reminder that while human beings are inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, it is their love for each other that can withstand against all odds.

4 out of 5 stars

Distributed by Viva International Pictures, ‘Adrift’ is now playing in PH cinemas starring Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin. Directed by Baltasar Kormákur and written by Aaron Kandell, Jordan Kandell and David Branson Smith. Based on the memoir, ‘Red Sky in Mourning: A True Story of Love, Loss, and Survival at Sea’ by Tami Oldham. Runtime: 96 minutes.