On September 6, “It: Chapter Two” opened in 4,570 theaters across the country. I had the chance to see the movie Thursday evening. This review will be as spoiler free as possible.
A direct sequel to 2017’s “It,” which is based on the classic horror novel by Stephen King, “It: Chapter Two,” which was written by Gary Dauberman and directed by Andy Muschietti, tackles the other half of the 1,138 page novel.
The film finds the tween protagonists from “It” returning to the town of Derry in order to fulfill their childhood pact to stop Pennywise, the ancient evil that has terrorized and fed upon the residents of the town every 27 years.
While six of the seven members of the “Losers Club” have moved away, and quite literally forgotten the horrors of their collective past, Mike Hanlon has stayed behind, waiting for any sign of It’s return.
Nearly three decades after the events of part one, Mike sees the creature’s handiwork displayed at a crime scene near the town carnival, and calls the gang back together. Over the course of “It: Chapter Two,” the Losers Club are challenged in ways they never could have imagined as they reckon with their past, and are terrorized by Pennywise in brand new ways.
The cast of “It: Chapter Two” is excellent across the board. James McAvoy (Bill), Jessica Chastain (Beverly), Bill Hader (Richie), Isaiah Mustafa (Mike), Jay Ryan (Ben), and James Ransone (Eddie), are perfectly cast as the adult versions of the characters we grew to love in part one of the franchise.
While the entire cast performs admirably, the standouts are Bill Hader and James McAvoy. Provided with perhaps the most fleshed-out character arcs, both Hader and McAvoy more than deliver on the emotional challenge.
Of course, the film is elevated by another bone-chilling performance from Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise, the creature’s most recognizable physical form. Skarsgard’s ability to adapt to whatever the script requires is astonishing and commendable.
Director Andy Muschietti knows how to craft a horror movie. “It: Chapter Two” follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, with jump scares and visceral frights aplenty.
The Not So Good
While admittedly difficult to adapt such a massive story, “It: Chapter Two” could have been much more cohesive. The film suffers from a somewhat disjointed narrative structure, as well as poor pacing, and redundant beats. “It: Chapter Two” largely repeats the “separate and scare” tactics of part one, with each character embarking on their own mission, and Pennywise finding ways to disarm them along the way.
When the characters do come together, the story tends to shine more brightly. The infamous Chinese restaurant scene is a wonderful example of this.
While some of the visual effects were spectacularly rendered, many others were wonky at best. Several of the more prominent “creature” scares were made much less frightening by virtue of their obvious CGI nature. Additionally, the younger cast had to be digitally de-aged due to the fact that some of them have changed dramatically from the first film. This de-aging is especially noticeable and distracting on Finn Wolfhard, who plays young Richie, and Jack Dylan Grazer, who plays young Eddie – although none of the younger cast are spared their own “Superman’s mustache” moments.
It also sounds like some of the vocals from the younger cast were digitally tweaked, which, like the visual de-aging, is weirdly noticeable.
“It: Chapter Two” has moments of excellence, with an extraordinary cast, emotional moments, and some solid scares. Unfortunately, the film is undermined by wonky visual effects and a poorly paced, narratively redundant script.