“It: Chapter Two” stars James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Andy Bean, Teach Grant, and Bill Skarsgård. Released on September 6, 2019, the film has the Losers’ Club returning to their hometown to defeat Pennywise once and for all.
The film is directed by Andy Muschietti, who is known for directing “Mama”, and it is a sequel to the 2017 horror film, “It”, also directed by Muschietti. It is also based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Stephen King. The battle against fear has been won, but for the Losers’ Club, the war continues. Muschietti’s take on the titular psychotic clown of death was proven to be a critical hit when it was released two years ago, with the critics praising the cast, the direction, and its frightening storytelling. Not only that, but it broke numerous box office records for the genre, which showcased the fact that a good Stephen King adaptation is more rewarding than a bad one. I was one of the people who actually enjoyed the heck out of “It” not just because of how immensely creepy it was, but also because it did a great job at balancing the horror elements with an engaging coming-of-age story about overcoming one’s personal fears. So I was pretty excited to see how they’re going to continue this type of story while maintaining the scary elements that worked in its predecessor. This is coming from the guy who hasn’t seen the 1990 version of “It” or read the novel it’s based on, keep that in mind. Now that it has returned to creep the heck out of me, does it have the right tricks to start Halloween off with a bang?
27 years have passed since their first encounter with Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Skarsgård), and the members of the Losers’ Club have gone their separate ways and are living their own adult lives. When one of the members, Mike Hanlon (Mustafa), discovers that Pennywise has returned to Derry to feast on unsuspecting children, he reunites the other members, including Bill Denbrough (McAvoy) and Beverly Marsh (Chastain), for one last battle against the monstrous clown from Hell. Much like its predecessor, “Chapter Two” combines the supernatural horror elements with a bunch of drama elements that emphasized the core theme, which is fear. The only difference is that this film is 30 minutes longer than “It”. Hope you got the guts to experience a lot of drama and creepy images for three hours because that’s what this film has to offer, for better or for worse. The story has this type of “Avengers: Endgame” vibe in which the characters take a trip down memory lane before going into a high-stakes showdown that could determine their fates. Don’t worry, it doesn’t involve time travel. While it wasn’t able to match the spectacle and emotion that “Endgame” delivered, the film’s plot was able to provide a satisfying and heartfelt conclusion to the story arc that started two years ago. Compared to the first film, however, the story in “Chapter Two” wasn’t anything too special despite it being entertaining. One of the reasons why is its reliance on the supernatural horror cliches, such as the jump scares. “It” was able to overshadow some of its cliches with an effective coming-of-age story, while “It: Chapter Two” felt like another ordinary supernatural horror film that struggles to cooperate well with its storytelling. To its credit, however, it made itself more tolerable than the recent horror films that weren’t that good, mostly due to Muschietti’s style, the characters, and its thought-provoking themes. There were also a couple of scares that I thought were decent enough to frighten some people, but the rest of them failed to capture the same impact as some of the scares from the first film, especially the one that involves Pennywise and the projector. There’s also a bit more CGI in the film compared to its predecessor, which can make the scares a bit cheap, but in terms of the designs, they looked pretty darn disturbing. Another reason is the runtime. It didn’t affect the film that much since I didn’t find a lot of scenes that were unnecessary, and it had a good enough substance to keep me engaged all the way through, so bonus points for that. However, by the time the characters head into the final showdown against Pennywise, I immediately started to feel its length. The film’s second act, despite it being necessary to the plot, can come off as repetitive for some people in terms of its structure, and because of the runtime being around three hours, it became more tiresome by the minute. Plus, it might not sit well for those who aren’t into the genre. From my own perspective, these reasons alone prevented “Chapter Two” from reaching the same heights as its predecessor, but it still retained the story’s heart and charm that made “It” a suitable horror film. Once again, the charm comes from the cast, which is the adult actors and the child actors who portrayed the Losers’ Club. The actors who played the adult versions of the Losers’ Club, including McAvoy and Chastain, were just as endearing and likable as the ones who played the child versions. The best part of the cast, in my opinion, has to be Bill Hader as Richie Tozier. Not only did he prove that he can work in horror just as effectively as he can in comedy, but he also provided plenty of hilarious moments that didn’t painfully mess up the tone it was aiming for. You can’t have a horror film without a few laughs, right? I also thought Bill Skarsgård was once again great as Pennywise. He’s no Joker, but dang, he’s a pro at making this character terrifying.
Overall, “It: Chapter Two” has enough thrills and substance to bring this coming-of-age story arc to a gratifying close. Its runtime and the use of horror cliches may not suit well for those who aren’t into the genre, but for the most part, it succeeds in delivering a well-crafted and entertaining sequel that’s filled with solid performances, respectable characters, and a story that never lost sight of its heart. I didn’t think it was as disappointing as most people were saying it was, but I can agree that it’s not as great as the first film. Not a bad way to kick off Halloween early this year.