It Chapter Two is now in theaters, and it’s a thoughtful, emotional, and – most importantly – terrifying conclusion to Stephen King’s epic.
It’s been 27 years since the Losers’ Club first took on the evil entity known as Pennywise. Now, “It” has returned, and the gang must return home to Derry to try and end the murderous cycle once and for all. The film is directed by Andy Muschietti from a script by Gary Dauberman, and stars Bill Skarsgård, James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, and Andy Bean, as well as all of the young actors from the first film.
First off, immense credit goes to casting director Rich Delia for putting together an adult Losers’ Club that perfectly matches their younger counterparts. You can’t tell me that Wyatt Oleff won’t look like Andy Bean when he grows up; I won’t hear it. People change a lot in 27 years, so Delia could have been more liberal with his casting, but the fact that the adults look their parts just makes this world feel more real and draws you further into the story.
The cast is It Chapter Two’s strongest asset. This film lives and dies by the Losers’ Club. Friendship is one of It’s central themes, so these characters need to have strong chemistry. And truthfully, if you told me these actors grew up together in real life and battled an ancient evil spirit together as kids, I would believe you. They feel like old friends. The way they play off one another and riff and give each other crap is probably the most charming part of the movie. Whenever the gang’s together, Chapter Two is at its best.
All of the Losers are portrayed well and the actors all capture the essence of their respective characters, but Bill Hader’s Richie is the standout performance. He’s the funniest of the bunch, but Hader also gives a very emotional, relatable, and powerful performance. Fans of HBO’s Barry have known about the SNL alum’s acting prowess for years; it’s nice that the rest of the world is about to catch up.
But, while the group dynamic is It Chapter Two’s greatest strength, it also opens the film up to its biggest problem. The Losers split up in the second act to go on a MacGuffin Quest, and this whole section of the film seems to drag. If you were to watch these scenes individually, they would probably be fine, but seeing them altogether just feels repetitive as each Loser basically goes through the same thing. You find yourself a little bored and just waiting for them to meet up again.
And then they do and shit gets real crazy real fast!
It Chapter Two is admittedly the weaker half of this saga (it’s just more emotionally fulfilling to watch kids battle this evil and come of age than it is watching their jaded adult counterparts), but the two films shouldn’t even be compared. They’re two parts of a whole; they complete each other. They’re both stories about friendship, but whereas Chapter One is about finding your people and forming those bonds, Chapter Two is about coming home, reconnecting with your past, and recapturing that childhood sense of wonder and hope. It’s about the people you swore to keep in touch with and then lost touch with.
It’s also got plenty of good scares and disturbing imagery (like, really disturbing).
The horror in this flick works well most of the time. A lot of it comes from the technical elements. Benjamin Wallfisch’s score is haunting, plus the cinematography by Checco Varese and editing by Jason Ballantine makes for a disorienting and overwhelming experience. They do a totally immersive job of making the audience feel how the characters feel.
On the flip side of that horror coin, though, some of CGI when Pennywise is terrorizing the Losers is noticeably wonky. It stands out like a sore thumb, and instead of scaring you, it takes you out of the movie completely.
While on the topic of things that didn’t work, there are a few plot points that are set up and ultimately have no payoff. There’s one character in particular that’s introduced but whose story goes nowhere. This is a character that plays a huge role in the original story, but if you took him out of this movie, it wouldn’t change a thing. It almost feels like Muschietti had bigger plans for the character but had to cut them for time (this movie still clocks in at 2 hours and 50 minutes). Maybe if we get an extended director’s cut, we’ll be able to see some of these plot threads come to fruition.
Back to the things that work, there is a LOT of humor in It Chapter Two, some of it intentional, and some of it probably not. Either way, it works. Again, the humor helps establish the Losers’ Club as close friends who rag on one another. Every now and then a joke will come in when you don’t expect it and break the tension, but it doesn’t detract from the moment. The humor gives this film a distinct tone; it doesn’t feel like most other horror movies. Muschietti is developing a style all his own.
And finally, let’s talk about the ending (no spoilers), because that’s what all It fans are concerned about going into this conclusion. In the original book, the final battle is crazy abstract and cosmic; it’s something that only works in your mind. Then, in the 1990 TV movie, the filmakers dumbed it down a lot and make it filmable. It Chapter Two utilizes the best of both worlds. There is a physical element to it that works on the big screen, but things definitely get trippy and cosmic in a way that’s more faithful to the novel. It’s fulfilling.
The bottom line is It Chaper Two is a satisfying end to this saga. It’s a movie that will stick in your brain long after you’ve left the theater, and one you’ll be itching to see again (but maybe not right away, because again, it’s almost three hours long). It’s a must-see on the big screen this weekend.
Did you see IT CHAPTER TWO? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!