It: Chapter Two

Movie review of Stephen King’s “It: Chapter Two”

If you saw It upon its release in 2017 and were unfamiliar with Stephen King’s book, you might be forgiven for believing that we had seen the last of Pennywise, the favorite murderous clown of County Derry. However It was a palpable hit, hence we have It Chapter Two, which covers the second half of King’s bestseller. Whereas the Losers Club (circa 1989) members were portrayed by a talented, albeit unknown team of young actors (all seen via flashbacks), the reunited Losers include such formidable talent as Bill Hader, Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy. 

The premise for It Chapter Two is pretty straight-forward. Twenty-seven years after the Losers thought they had vanquished Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), it is clear (especially to the viewer) that It has returned. Since the Losers had promised to return to Derry if ever they needed to confront It again, the stage is set for a final, possibly apocalyptic confrontation. However, in order to get there, the Losers must go their separate ways to recover mementos that can be used in the final battle. Meanwhile Pennywise continues taunting the Losers, while continuing to prey on the young and vulnerable.

Gary Daubermann’s adaptation is fairly faithful (up to a point) and provides the occasional good insight into the disillusionment that comes with growing older, the tricks that memory can play on you—and the importance of friendship. There are also some good scenes which balance friendship and fear, as when a dinner and drinks reunion of the Losers turns into mayhem minus the mirth. Director Andy Muschietti has assembled a team of fine adult actors for the grown-up Losers (also including James Ransone, Jay Ryan and Isaiah Mustafa), while the youthful members impress yet again (especially Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, and Jeremy Ray Taylor). However at a running time of nearly three hours (at least it feels that way), It Chapter Two is something less than the sum of its parts. The individual journeys become a tad repetitive (as do the scares—less of It gnashing its teeth would be more) and detract from the overall tension. In addition, the long-awaited confrontation (and I mean that literally) is a letdown, since the method the Losers employ might cause the viewer to react with “If it was that simple, why didn’t they think of that before?” At least this viewer did. If one would like a clue (spoiler alert for 70s horror film fans), it reminded me of the method that Roddy McDowall used to confront an evil force in The Legend of Hell House. You’ve been warned.