“IT: Chapter Two”- Movie Review
Given the immense popularity and buzz surrounding the first IT film, it’s easy to forget that it came out two years ago. Two years! Seems like it was only a few months ago people were getting eager to see Stephen King’s story of a child-eating shapeshifter clown get the cinematic treatment. It’s crazy how fast time flies. But here we are now, ready to witness the silver screen adaptation of King’s horror epic.
The highly anticipated sequel takes place 27 years after the events of the Chapter One. The Losers Club is all grown up, and they have since gone their separate ways. Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy) is now a successful horror novelist; Richie Tozier (Bill Hader) is putting his trashmouth to good use as a stand-up comedian; the once portly Ben Hanscom (Jay Ryan) is now a well-built and well-off architect; Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransome) and Beverly Marsh (Jessica Chastain) have their own businesses; Stanley Uris (Andy Bean) is happily married. Life outside Derry, Maine doesn’t seem too bad. But their taste of (relative) normalcy is brought to a screeching halt by a phone call from back home. Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) is back, and he’s more bloodthirsty than ever. Now the Losers have no choice but to return to Derry to face their fears and put an end to Pennywise’s reign of terror once and for all.
I adored the first IT movie. It wasn’t scary by any means, but the performances were so good and the attempted scares were at least creepy enough that it made for a massively entertaining watch. In some respects, IT: Chapter Two achieves a similar feat. Although objectively inferior to the first movie, the sequel still manages to deliver a fun, outrageous experience.
The filmmakers had a daunting task ahead of them- take arguably the weakest aspects of Stephen King’s 1986 novel and bring them to life in a way that pleases King superfans and is consumable for mainstream audiences. In the grand scheme of things, they accomplish that goal. The least interesting portions of the book- the adult perspectives, the double-loaded mythology, the ridiculous ending- are made interesting through the acting and the unapologetic, balls-to-the-wall execution of the narrative. This film, more so than the first, embraces a sort of Evil Dead vibe. And you can see it in the designs of Pennywise’s forms, the creativity of the visuals and the darkly comedic beats. Director Andy Muschietti weaves these elements together pretty well, enough for a satisfying end result.
Bill Skarsgard is once again incredible as Pennywise. He’s creepy. He’s funny. The amount of personality and physicality he puts into the character is captivating. He’s given more screen time and more dialogue to play with here, and he pulls it off. I relished every moment he appeared onscreen. The actors they got to play the adult versions of the Loser are a perfect match to the young actors who portrayed them in the first film. Not only do they give genuinely good performances (especially Bill Hader, who steals every scene he’s in), but they get a lot of the mannerisms and the inflections of the young actors down to a tee. It also helps that each of them looks exactly like the kid actors.
Both the kid and adult versions of the characters are prominent in Chapter 2. The film often switches back and forth between past and present, as the adults are trying to remember their experiences in Derry. It’s a clever concept on paper, but when it plays out on the big screen, much of the film seems too dependent on it. The film seems less interested in developing the adult characters and more so in flashing back to the kid characters we already know and love. The time jumps distract from the plot and thus weakens the pacing, making large portions of the narrative feel sluggish.
Even with these glaring flaws, IT: Chapter Two is a decent follow-up to Chapter One. It’s not as tightly constructed nor as creepy as the first film, but it’s equally as fun in my opinion. The film is bonkers, absolutely bonkers. The scares come at you from every direction, and despite its ambitious 2-hour/49-minute runtime, I was never bored. If you’re in the mood for a pre-Halloween thrill, IT: Chapter Two is a good choice to turn to. That is, if you have three hours to kill.