It ends. That simple tag line is how they’re selling IT: Chapter Two, the sequel to the 2017 box office blockbuster, IT. That’s pretty much all that needs to be said, as this finale is about as presold as they come. Whether one has seen the original TV adaptation or not, if you’ve seen that earlier theatrical film, you’re pretty darn likely to be buying a ticket for this final installment. Horror hounds should temper their expectations though, as IT: Chapter Two lacks the effective scares and creepiness of its predecessor. What it lacks in that area though, it more than makes up for in laughs and the viewer’s connection to adult versions of the characters we came to love in It.
These characters all come together 27 years after the events of the first movie at the behest of the adult version of Mike (Isaiah Mustafa). Mike is the only one who remained in the town of Derry, while everyone else went on to career success in other cities. They’ve largely forgotten what went down in their battle with the evil clown Pennywise, while Mike has stayed home and devoted his life to learning more about that villainous jester and his origin. Pennywise seems to have returned to the unlucky hamlet of Derry, as children are once again disappearing or dying at an unnatural clip. So, Mike calls the band back together again to once and for all take him out, this time hoping not to leave any doubt as to the clown’s ultimate extinction.
Things don’t go as easily as hoped for though, as certain members of the Losers’ Club don’t want any part of this mission. Through some trials and travails back home, reminding them of the tough times they’ve survived, they do end up rekindling their friendships and for some, love. Once reconvened, and with a little help from a Native American ritual, they will do their darnedest to vanquish the murderous mirth maker Pennywise.
As far as the adult actors in this film go, Bill Hader and James Ransone stand out. They play the older versions of Richie and Eddie, respectively. The two are just as side splitting as Finn Wolfhard and Jack Dylan Grazer in the first IT, having great comic timing in their many scenes together. James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain’s talents however seem wasted, as they are not called on to act or emote to anywhere near the limits of their abilities. Their characters of Bill and Beverly are far less interesting or engrossing as they were in the first film.
The viewer does once again connect with and care for Ben though, this time played by Jay Ryan. The former fat kid who suffered at the hands of bullies is now a successful architect and hopes once again to gain the favor of the now married Bev. You feel for him and want him to succeed, especially after everything he has gone through.
One concern I had going into the movie was the lengthy running time. Two hours and forty nine minutes for any film can seem daunting, even more so for a horror flick, a genre for whom the majority of its members normally run half that time or only slightly more. I needn’t have been so wary though, as the movie kept things moving and interesting for the entirety of its duration. Never once did I feel bored or glance at my watch, as I had been fearing beforehand.
Director Andy Muschietti shows a sure hand with this sequel, giving the moviegoer much of the same that they enjoyed in the first film, save for efficacious frights. One weakness I noted was the over reliance on CGI that comes at the expense of practical effects. Not to sound like too much of an old school horror fan fuddy duddy, but when it comes to scare flicks, practical effects usually ground the film in reality, while too many digital effects stand to take a viewer out of the movie, a cardinal sin if there ever was one.
IT: Chapter Two is not a movie one needs to be convinced to see. Whatever a reviewer has to say likely won’t hold sway over your decision to purchase a ticket or not. That being said, I did have an overall good time at the cinema watching this shocker sequel, and imagine most filmgoers will be of a similar opinion after viewing it themselves.
Recommended if you liked: IT, Pet Sematary, The Mist
Final Grade: B
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