I will go on the record to say that I thought that 2017’s remake of It was one of the better studio horror movies this decade. I think it was effectively frightening while also building up real characters and creating an atmosphere that made you feel uneasy throughout. The movie ended off on a great place to lead into this sequel and I was beyond excited to see how Andy Muschietti would finish this story.
Chapter Two takes place 27 years after the events of the first movie. All of the original kids have moved on to bigger and better things outside of Derry, except for Mike who calls them to come back after Pennywise returns. From there we go on a nearly three hour journey where the Losers Club must figure out how defeat Pennywise once and for all.
First complaint I had with this was the length of it. I had no problem seeing an It movie that was 170 minutes long, I was just hoping it be stuffed with a little more substance. Instead, It Chapter Two falls in this weird category where it feels both overlong and underdeveloped. There are plenty of good character moments but there are also plenty of character moments that just go on too long and do not ultimately add up to much.
As for those characters, I do think that they were all mostly handled very well here. This is unsurprising considering how well developed they were in the last film. James McAvoy played the character of Billy very well, getting his vocal inflictions down and generally feeling like how that character would be as an adult. Unfortunately, I do not think this movie had much for him to do and I often found myself not thinking about his character. The same goes for the other standout character from the last movie Beverly, played by Jessica Chastain, who has even less to do. The film takes surprisingly little time to add more depth to her character, instead making her main arc about some half-cooked love triangle between Billy and Ben.
The two members of the Losers Club who impressed the most would definitely be Eddie and Richie. James Ransone has a striking physical resemblance to Eddie, which is even highlighted by an interesting superimposition shot, and shows off Eddie’s neuroses well. His comedic timing is great and he generally brightens every scene is a part of. This is all even more the case with Bill Hader’s Richie who is the clear standout of the entire film. Hader is more than just comedic relief and instead carries a surprising amount of the emotional weight here, especially towards the end where he is given a moment to really humanize his character. The rest of the cast is also solid but these two were the main standouts.
But in the end, It Chapter Two is a horror movie so the obvious question is how well they were able to fit the scares into this bloated film. I would say that when the movie is trying to be scary, it mostly delivers. My main issue is that the world surrounding these characters does not feel gross and apathetic towards these horrors like the first. Instead, the town feels relatively empty which makes the scenes between horror set pieces feel relatively normal. This is compared to the first film where there was still underlying tension and uneasiness when Pennywise was not there.
Oh, and about Pennywise. He is still clearly a creepy antagonist and when given the chance is a truly phenomenal villain but he has much less to do in this film. There are realistically less than a handful of times where he actually is given the chance to be a character and not just a prop for whatever is happening in the scene. He has one moment in the first half of the film that is one of his best, however, that calls back to Georgie’s terrifying death in the first movie. It was a scene that gave me hope for the rest of the film but sadly it ended up feeling rather unimportant in the scheme of things.
Just like in the first film, there are other scary visual character scattered throughout the film but for some reason the movie’s CGI during the first two-thirds was super cheesy and took out a lot of potential horror that could have been had. These moments definitely were creepy but these bad CGI creatures definitely would take me out of the movie,
I think the end of the movie is where things get mostly back on track. It essentially turns into an action blockbuster and I honestly did not hate it considering how fun it was getting. There were also some pretty inventive horror set pieces as the character began to get split up and I actually found myself starting to feel tense during these scenes. Again, I wish Pennywise had felt more like a character during these moments and the way the climax concluded was underwhelming but the film’s epilogue does a nice enough job of putting a bow on the series.
This is a weird one because I do think there are some truly great moments scattered throughout here, and I was thoroughly entertained by this, but the imperfections are also incredibly glaring and this script certainly needed more focus and direction. Instead, It Chapter Two comes across as scattered with some moments feeling way too self-serious. If you are a fan of the first film, this will not ruin that one for you and will give you some of what you want and for that it is certainly worth your time.