t Chapter Two is a sprawling horror film that is slightly less focused than its predecessor. That may be due to the nearly 3 hour running time that not only wants to deliver another story set decades later but also interject scenes with the original cast. Both generations are solid and the scare scenes are uniformly fantastic but it sort of feels like the filmmakers had a bunch of deleted scenes they stuffed in here, losing the simplicity of the first movie’s storytelling with pointless backstory. But despite minor flaws, Chapter Two delivers a freaky and fantastically absorbing horror experience.
Twenty-seven years after Losers Club defeated the horror of the demon Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgard) in the 1980s, Mike (Isaiah Mustafa) invites the grown-up Losers to return to Derry. Arriving a bit befuddled about their lack of memories from years ago is Bill (James McAvoy), Bev (Jessica Chastain), Eddie (James Ransone), Ben (Jay Ryan) and Richie (Bill Hader). Soon they start to recall the events of Pennywise terrorizing them as the clown horror returns. Mike has a plan to defeat Pennywise once and for all but it involves the adults coming to terms with their past, which is made more complicated by the escaped insane asylum murderer Henry (Teach Grant). And when they finally confront Pennywise it will lead to things even more insane.
The casting for the adults Losers Club is great as they recall the original kid actors but feel like people who have lived decades away. McAvoy’s Bill falls back into the stutter he had as a kid as he has to deal with guilt over his brother Georgie’s death at the maw of Pennywise. Chastain seems like Bev’s childhood traumas made her harsher while Ransone’s Eddie is a hypochondriac with great quips. Ben has changed quite a lot physically but still seems the same timid person. Like Finn Wolfhard in the first film, Hader’s Richie is constantly making jokes which adds levity. Mike has a rather convoluted plan to stop Pennywise and has become an expert on the creature, so he primarily delivers a ton of exposition.
As Pennywise, Skarsgard creates a memorable monster and every time he’s on screen it’s riveting. There is a lot of VFX to make Pennywise be the monster he is, especially in the third act, but it’s always incredibly creepy with his vocal performance and twitchy mannerisms. The scare scenes with Pennywise all have a nice slow build. A scene with Bill trapped in a hall of mirrors with flickering lighting is fantastic. Bev gets a good scene with a seemingly helpful old lady that turns nasty and Richie has a public confrontation with Pennywise that twists reality into a nightmare.
The crazed bully Henry worked well in the first film; it was as if the horror of Pennywise was seeping into the people’s brains. Here Henry is slightly less menacing this time around as Grant’s version isn’t quite as freaky as the younger version. This one just seems like a generic guy off his rocker. Still, he’s good for a secondary antagonist and his final scene is satisfyingly messy.
The movie continually flashes back to the kid Losers club in the 1980s which is a mixed bag. All of the younger actors work well in the roles as all of the kids get a creepy encounter not shown in the first film. The scenes work great as individual pieces however it feels a bit redundant; these scenes would have taken place during the events of the first film so why were they not there originally? It also sort of robs the scenes of tension as the flashbacks seem kind of pointless since we know the kids defeated Pennywise. Also, narrative momentum of the story has shifted to the future and the flashbacks seem superfluous. Even if these are new scenes for Chapter Two it still feels like they’re finding It deleted scenes to put in this movie. The flashbacks add to the film being a bit on the longish side. Also wearing is the fact that this movie has like six endings in a row which makes the ending not as concise as the original film’s zippy wrap up.
Seeing where the Losers club start out 27 years later is interesting, Bill is a writer, Richie is a stand up comedian, and Bev has a husband that is disturbingly like her father but only some of it pays off dramatically. Still, occasionally, there is a nice new parallel to the present stuff as the adults see the kid versions of themselves in their memories. Also, when things get crazy with Pennywise’s illusions there’re a few scenes where the adults meet the kid versions which is really trippy. The final battle of the Losers versus Pennywise has a few glimpses of the creature’s true identity which is monstrously twisted.
It Chapter Two is a solid follow up to the first film. It may throw a lot at the screen for a bit too long of a running time but it has solid scare moments where it counts. This is a nightmare journey that takes the Losers Club to their final confrontation with an ancient evil and ends with a satisfying bang. V
IT CHAPTER TWO
Director: Andy Muschietti
Writers: Gary Dauberman (screenplay by), Stephen King
Starring: Jessica Chastain,
James McAvoy and Bill Hader