“‘IT: Chapter 2’ has some golden moments of horror and comedy, but it comes at an exhaustive and taxing price.”
The second and final chapter of ‘IT‘ brings the adult renderings of Stephen King’s kid heroes to the forefront some 27 years later in ‘IT: Chapter 2‘, that stars Bill Hader, Jessica Chastain, and James McAvoy. This sequel runs in at three hours alone, making the two films over five hours long. Director Andy Muschietti has even said there is a 6.5-hour super-cut of the movie, which leads me to ask why this wasn’t released on a streaming format, due to its episodic nature and extensive time run. Still, this second chapter is entertaining enough but suffers from major flaws in pacing, redundancy, and trying to over-complicate things.
The horrifying monster that is able to shape-shift into your worst nightmare, but is usually disguised as a sinister clown named Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) was defeated by the young losers Club in the first film that took place in 1989. After the kids won the day, they made a promise to get back together again should “It” ever come back. Now that 27 years have gone by, “It” is back and the Losers Club must come back and fight.
It’s not as easy as it sounds though since only one of the Losers (Mike) has stayed in Derry, Maine for last three decades, studying “It” and his history and waiting for children to go missing. After a horrific incident in Derry, Mike makes the numerous phone calls to his long lost friends who have all moved many miles away across the country and have forgotten about their promise and the atrocities of the killer clown. After a reunion dinner with the now-grown Losers Club, the terror begins as Muschietti brings us on the exact same horror path as “IT: Chapter 1“, where we follow each individual grown-up face their fear with Pennywise or some other monster.
Again, Muschietti and screenwriter Gary Dauberman (the worst ‘Conjuring‘ spinoff movies) devote long periods of time to introducing the new characters one-by-one in the same fashion as the previous version, as well as confront their nightmares. This grows tiresome quick and becomes exhausting and seems to never end. The movie tries to focus on the older Bill again (McAvoy), but his character is inconsequential other than that he feels this is all his fault from the death of his young brother Georgie that rainy afternoon by the sewer drain.
It would’ve been nice to explore Mike’s character more as he has been studying the evil clown for many years, or even Beverly since she was under IT’s hypnotic spell in the last film. That’s simply not the case. In addition to that, Muschietti seems to have just added scenes to try and terrify us just to garner cheap scares. These scenes bloat the movie and never forward the story or characters. Another gripe I have is that Pennywise the Clown isn’t the clown for a lot of the movie. Instead, he shape-shifts into CGI versions of lepers, naked old ladies, or other odd-looking monsters. I found myself wanting to shout at the filmmakers and say, “Look, the clown gets the job done. He’s scary enough.”
But when “IT: Chapter 2” works, it completely earns it. The gore and violence is hardcore and never shies away from showing a death, even that of a child. It’s bloody to a maximum. Also, the casting of the adults is spot on, from their personality traits to their physical mannerisms and look. It’s uncanny, to say the least where I think the casting director should get an award. Bill Hader definitely steals the show as the adult Richie, making us laugh in every scene. James Ransone plays the older Eddie who still sports the asthma inhaler and is pitch-perfect. Ransone is mostly known as Ziggy Sobotka from HBO’s ‘The Wire’. And when Skarsgard is on camera as Pennywise, he is at his most sadistic and it’s extremely bone-chilling. It’s just too bad he isn’t front and center for long.
I know this film adaptation of “IT” is extremely hard to please fans. With this sequel, they doubled the cast, because we still get scenes with the young kids, which can be a messy maze of trying to tell a story. Muschietti finds the path to navigate between stories easily and makes an entertaining film here and there, but the meaningful or emotional actions and characters never reach their top peak to make us care about them because the film is too long and full of unnecessary excess sequences.
‘IT: Chapter 2‘ has some golden moments of horror and comedy, but it comes at an exhaustive and taxing price. I will say though if you want to can spend the extra money seeing the film in IMAX, please do it that way, because the sound in IMAX was some of the best audio I’ve ever heard, including creepy noises and musical cues coming from all directions.
Written by: Bryan Kluger