When It was released back in 2017, the movie was met with critical and commercial success. The film broke box-office records and ended up becoming the highest grossing horror movie of all time. The movie brought scary clowns back into the zeitgeist and made the Stephen King novel it was based of popular again. Needless to say, the bar was set really high for the sequel.
Despite all the ambition and pressure, It: Chapter Two mostly manages to stick the landing with some bumps on the road.
While it doesn’t surpass the 1st movie, it is a good successor that solidifies Pennywise’s reputation as one of the scariest horror movie villains of all time.
Set 27 years after the original, the Losers Club returns to their hometown of Derry, Maine, this time as adults, in order to stop Pennywise once and for all. While It dealt with the teenage version of the Losers Club meeting and fighting Pennywise for the first time, It: Chapter Two sees the adult version of the Losers Club finish the fight.
By the opening scene alone, one can already tell that It: Chapter Two is scarier and a more mature movie.
The first movie was scary as it is, but the sequel takes it to a whole new level. Now that the main cast are all adults, the film doesn’t hold back with its scares and mature themes and scenes. This is arguably the greatest strength of the film, that it’s really scary to the point where some of the scares and visuals will be remembered long after the movie is done. Pennywise is at his best when he uses his various forms to scare and haunt the Losers Club, both the younger and older versions. While the movie might rely on jump scares more often than not, they are mostly done well and effectively.
A main theme of It: Chapter Two is dealing with one’s past and it can be seen with the Losers Club as they return to Derry and re-open some forgotten wounds. Despite most of them leaving town, the Losers Club are not perfect and still have scars from their time in Derry. They all have their own demons to fight, both literally and figuratively. The film explores each characters journey for closure, but some story lines are done better than others.
One thing that the film does effectively is blend the modern-day story line with the original film’s story.
Chapter Two has a lot of callbacks and references to the first movie and the film’s director, Andy Muschietti, was able to blend those 2 story lines well. There is a good mix of scenes of the younger and older version of the Losers Club. With that being said though, it would be advisable that the viewer should have seen It or is at least familiar with the story because it can get confusing especially if the viewer is unaware of what happened in the first It.
In terms of the cast, the adult Losers Club are played by some talented actors including Jessica Chastain (Beverly), James McAvoy (Bill), and Bill Hader (Richie), and for the most part they do a good job, but Bill Hader stands out as the best of the new cast. He’s both funny yet serious at times and for an actor know mostly for his comedic roles, Bill Hader does surprisingly well in a dramatic role. The problem though is that the adults are outshined by their younger counterparts. The cast of the younger Losers Club have better chemistry with each other as compared to their adult counterparts. This may be due to story reasons but as the film went on, it became clear that the kids work more well together than the adults did.
The film employs a three-act structure, with the first act dedicated to plot set-up, the second act for doing the main objective of the plot, and the third act as the climax and final showdown. If this sounds formulaic, that’s because it is. The film follows a set narrative structure and rarely deviates from that. The worst offender of this is the second act where it felt like it was the same premise happening again but in different locations. The film picks up though in the third act. Everything that the It movies have been building up to reaches its climax and the movie does not disappoint. The finale has a good mix of action, horror, and drama that made the ending a satisfying one.
All in all, It: Chapter Two may not have surpassed all expectations, but it certainly is a good sequel and good horror movie in general.
The film should be applauded for its intense scares, exciting finale, and tackling of mature themes. The film is sadly bogged down by some boring and formulaic storytelling. If anything, this film should serve as a reminder that Pennywise still reins as one of the best horror movie villains to be featured in cinema.
Despite its ups and down, It: Chapter Two is a fitting conclusion and offers one of the better horror movie experiences of the year.