Defeated by members of the Losers’ Club, the evil clown Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) returns twenty seven years later to terrorize the town of Derry, Maine, once again. Now adults, the childhood friends have long since gone their separate ways. But when people start disappearing, Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) calls the others home for one final stand. Damaged by scars from the past, the united Losers must conquer their deepest fears to destroy the shape-shifting Pennywise — now more powerful than ever.
Back when the 2017 film It was nearing release in theatres, millions of horror fans all across the world including myself were giddy to see what director Andy Muschietti and the rest of the filmmaking crew had up their sleeves. The cast additionally looked quite promising with the likes of Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis, and Jack Dylan Grazer in the film to name just a few.
The film came out and was a massive success both critically and commercially, grossing over seven hundred million dollars and is currently the highest-grossing horror picture of all time. It made a cultural impact on the horror genre like no other film had and when I initally saw it, I liked it quite a bit. I did not think it was a masterpiece, but I had a really fun time. However, over the years, I have come to love the film more and more every single rewatch. It’s a movie that is full of heart, humor, exciting sequences, and truly unnerving moments.
During the ending credits for that film, we got official confirmation that a second film would be on its way in the near future, with the closing titles reading “It: Chapter One“, much to the excitement of many. Two years later, and here we are with Chapter Two officially in theatres.
A movie this large and with this much of a following is certain to stir up quite a bit of anticipation. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into it, because of one reason. The first half of 1990 Tim Curry-lead It miniseries, where we follow the Losers’ Club as kids, is quite fun and entertaining, but I found the second half with them as adults to be, quite honestly, terrible.
Much to my shock, It Chapter Two is a horror extravaganza that is heaps and bounds better than its predecessor, a movie that is still terrific. This is a much deeper, scarier, emotional, and character driven film and it is all the better for it.
Similiar to the first one, the entire cast here that makes up the Losers’ Club is utterly wonderful. There truly is not a single performance here that is weak. Out of all of them though, my personal favorite has to be James McAvoy as William “Bill” Denbrough, the former leader of the club. Right from the first time we see him in this installment, he is very much so the same Bill from what we know, but he is significantly traumatized due to the events of the first film, particularly the death of his little brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott).
Throughout the film, it is Bill who wants to take charge against Pennywise the Dancing Clown which makes a ton of sense, as he has a deep personal connection to him. In fact, there is one scene towards the end of the second act in which Bill makes a tough choice and goes out of his way to do something, and this entire scene was absolutely riveting.
Additionally, Jessica Chastain is marvelous as Beverly Marsh who also has a troubled past, due to her many years of abuse at the hands of her father Alvin (Stephen Bogaert). This time around, Beverly is a significantly different character. She is, like Bill, deeply traumatized from everything that happened before, and I found her character to be intriguing every time she was on screen.
But when it comes to delivering pure laughs, Bill Hader, who portrays Richie Tozier, is the best at it. Nearly every time he is on screen, he has something funny to say and all of the jokes thankfully landed. They never seemed out of place and they never broke the creepy tone that the film went for. But the film also does not shy away from giving him a bunch of emotion-heavy scenes that took me completely off-guard and surprised me in all the best ways.
That is one of the greatest praises for Chapter Two – the amount of raw emotion it has. This is a far more emotional movie than the first and there are a couple of scenes in the third act where it can be hard not to get emotional. Almost all of these scenes have to do with the Losers’ Club and I loved how the film was so character driven. It actually felt like I was watching a group of friends banding together for the first time in twenty seven years.
Naturally, a lot of audiences are going to want to watch this picture to see one thing and one thing alone – Pennywise. To be completely honest, in the first film, I found him to be a rather creepy and interesting character to watch, but this time around, he is even scarier and deadly than ever. Skarsgård gives his all in this performance, and it is not hard to tell that he loves to play this character. Every single scene involving Pennywise makes for some great and wonderfully creepy moments that I will be remembering for a long time.
When it comes to issues with this film, there are really only a couple that stand out to me. Firstly, there is a scene in the second act involving Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransone), one of Pennywise’s forms, and for some odd reason, out of nowhere, an incredibly random song plays for about three seconds and abruptly cuts out. It was so jarringly edited and thrown in the movie for seemingly no reason that it actually did take me out of the movie for a minute.
Finally, there are a couple of times in which certain characters will dump a whole pile of exposition on a character, but in all reality, it is just the screenwriters telling us important things that we need to know. It would have been nice if we had learned these things through visual storytelling.
It Chapter Two is a rare sequel that improves upon its predecessor with an invigorating cast, a compelling story, hair-raising scares and heart-wrenching emotion.
Overall Grade: A
MPAA Rating: R for disturbing violent content and bloody images throughout, pervasive language, and some crude sexual material
Cast: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Andy Bean, Bill Skarsgård
Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Running Time: 169 minutes