Bigger doesn’t mean scarier in the bloody and overwrought ‘It: Chapter Two’

2017’s It (or It: Chapter One) was a scary but surprise hit as Stephen King’s 1200-page horror novel was adapted for the big screen. Stellar performances from a young cast of child actors, an old-school feeling as a loss of innocence film at its core, with King’s fear, mortality and survivalist themes, helped make it the highest-grossing horror film of all time. So a sequel was all but planned, especially considering only half of Stephen King’s novel was adapted.

It: Chapter Two is exactly more (and more) of the same of what made its predecessor popular: mad clowns, bad drains, and buckets of blood. If only this worked better with the two-hour-and 45 minute runtime.

This review is Spoiler-Free.

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It: Chapter Two is set in 2016, twenty-seven years after the events of the first film. The Losers Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back home to take on the terrifying Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) one last time.

The scrappy kids of the Losers Club, who we grew fond of during the first movie, have grown past their Stranger Things craziness of their 80’s youth and have become grown adults. Or more accurately, movie stars: James McAvoy is Bill, a novelist and screenwriter still mourning the violent death of his little brother, Georgie, long ago; Jessica Chastain’s Beverly is still the sensitive supernatural, who’s now married to an abusive husband; Bill Hader’s Richie has leveled up to stand-up comedy; Jay Ryan’s Ben has shed off his baby fat has become a successful but lonely real estate mogul, and James Ransome’s nervous Eddie does risk assessment for an insurance company. Andy Bean’s Stanley doesn’t get much backstory, but he seems to be in a nice, stable marriage.

Only Mike (Isaiah Mustafah) has chosen to stay in Derry, Maine – a Sunnydale-type of town that sits over a cursed carnival hellmouth. And after an ugly incident, Mike calls the gang back home to honor their childhood blood oath to finish the job if Pennywise (Bill Skarsgaard) ever returned. If you have any interest in the mythology behind Pennywise’s actions, it helps to have either read the book or seen the previous film. As it turns out, there is a rhyme or reason for the sinister clown’s need to eat children by the handful like M & M’s and slinging comedic insults at his escaped prey.

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Director Andy Muschietti methodically chucks through the 1,100-plus pages of King’s horror classic and tosses nearly every horror trope into the mix as he does. It seems like the film doesn’t trust that it can’t be scary when its implied when its consistently personified by skittering creatures, demonic old ladies, and murderous statues. They are under your bed, in your closet, in the basement, and of course, a disorienting hall of mirrors. Besides causing a small episode of goosebumps, there weren’t major jump scares that had me sitting deeper in my reclining seat.

Hader and Ransome do a lot of the comedic lifting, their dry-mouthed humor brings much needed comedic cheer to lighten up from the relentless ghoulish set pieces that seemed to follow each other. Some of the other filmmaking choices were problematic, mainly at the start, despite the fact that it comes directly from the novel, and the lack of personalities from characters played by talented actors.

My main points of concern come from two things: Not enough Pennywise and the film seems to drag on and on. The nearly three-hour run-time does not serve this story as a positive; a tighter plot might have helped boost the sequel in my eyes in a film where you question whether to laugh or leave as the clowns try their best to be the stuff of adulthood nightmares.

Thanks for reading, everyone! Sorry for the long delay!!

What are your thoughts about It Chapter Two? Will you see this clown-faced sequel? Or are you waiting for the next Stephen King adaptation in a few weeks?

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