Cast: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa
Director: Andy Muschietti
Well, one of this year’s most anticipated sequels is finally here and ready to reinstill the universal fear of clowns in society. Considering how popular It was in 2017, the expectations were high thinking about what It Chapter Two could bring to our screens. While the runtime is excessive and the ending might end up disappointing some viewers, It Chapter Two has spot-on casting and is still unsettling enough where it can scare most viewers and capture most of what King’s novel wanted its readers to feel.
The film takes place 27 years after the events of It with It/Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) coming out of hibernation to continue feeding off of the fears of the children of Derry. While the Losers Club have all grown up and moved on with their lives, Mike Hanlon (Mustafa) remained in Derry to make sure that when the time came, the Losers Club would come back and kill It once and for all. While their memories have faded since leaving Derry, when they return all of their fears come back to them and they must all overcome their pasts if they are ever going to prevent It from killing more children. The things that made the first movie so special are still very much on display in It Chapter Two. The casting of the original characters as adults was borderline perfect, with Chastain and James Ransone looking almost exactly how you would picture these kids growing up into. The rest of the cast all seem to understand the world that was built in the first film and can easily fit in to this strange and frightening little town. Outside of the cast, It Chapter Two is just as creepy if not creepier than the original movie. I think this is in large part due to the amount of blood in the sequel that wasn’t necessarily used to infer someone was hurt, but rather to disgust and make the audience feel vulnerable. This works tremendously as anytime Pennywise attacks a character you feel the same emotion that these adults felt as children and will always feel until either they’re dead or Pennywise is dead. Outside of the characters and the horror though, the film sees a decrease in quality in two specific areas where the original movie succeeded. The first is that this movie is longer than the first one and you can absolutely feel it drag on. For comparison, the original movie had a runtime of 135 minutes while this one is 169 minutes long. I felt as though the original movie is paced pretty well, so that extra 34 minutes definitely makes the film feel bloated and too long for its own good. I know the source material is over 1000 pages long so there’s a ton of topics to cover, but the movie never really establishes a coherent sequence of events. From giving each character enough time to develop to explaining how to defeat It with the Ritual of Chud, It Chapter Two covers significant portions of the book but doesn’t do so in the timeliest of ways. Moving on to the ending, I’ve never read the book, but I have a strange feeling that this is not the way it ends. After such an intense build up of It vs the Losers Club, I was expecting an epic showdown that would ultimately decide how Derry would fare moving forward. There are moments of excellence during the climax, but the end result is more of a fizzle than a true resolution. This is a shame since every moment leading up to that is fairly epic and momentous, but ultimately, It Chapter Two couldn’t pinpoint an exact way to end an otherwise entertaining movie.
Overall, It Chapter Two is a very solid sequel, but it proves the point that sequels are rarely better than the original. With a cast as experienced as this one and a premise that is both interesting and terrifying, you can’t be super disappointed with what we ended up with. A middle ground movie in the collection of Stephen King adaptations, It Chapter Two is scary enough to stand on its own, but not ironed out enough to serve as a more satisfying movie than its precursor.
Overall Score: 6/10