IT: Chapter Two
Jacob Richardson | 5/09/2019
A little less scary, IT: Chapter Two ages up the kids and the humour, and makes its long runtime feel justified.
27 years after the events of the first film, IT: Chapter Two sees Pennywise the clown return to the town of Derry and resume his murderous rampage. But he wants the Losers Club, who thwarted him before, to come back and face him again. Thus Beverley (Jessica Chastain), Bill (James McAvoy), Richie (Bill Hader), Ben (Jay Ryan), and Eddie (James Ransone) return to Derry to join Mike (Isiah Mustafa) in the fight against the evil clown.
Director Andy Muschietti must have been daunted in tackling the second part of Stephen King’s famous tome. The first IT was so well received, that it sets up the second for failure. Thankfully, Muschietti continues his winning streak with this even tempered yet still scary iteration.
The most masterful stroke is in the casting. McAvoy and Chastain are perfect aged up versions of Bill and Beverley from the original, and you can see the traits clearly through their performance. The standout, though, is Bill Hader, who perfectly embodies the wit, charlatanry and irreverence of the child Richie, while bringing an adult nuance to it. Not only does he keep you steadily laughing throughout, in the moments you least expect, but also his dramatic work, particularly in the climax, makes you realise how incredible an actor Hader is.
The horror / terror comes thick and fast, just like the prequel, and frequently you’ll find yourself jumping in your seat. Muschietti builds a convincing amalgam of persistent dread and jump scares (aided by score) to create a tapestry of fear that never quite lets up. As with his last movie in the franchise, however, it is when he starts layering the horrors of our everyday lives in that we start to really feel the fear. Last film, it was the horrific relationship between Beverley and her father, and similar tones are spread throughout this movie; as indicated early with a horrific homophobic crime being perpetrated by regular humans.
Then there is the monster himself; Pennywise. There are some standout moments for Pennywise in this film, and Bill Skarsgaard’s performance is just as manic and indelible as in the last. That being said, our exposure to him in a previous movie, and the combination of his presence with that of a group of adults, leads to him not being as effective a villain as he was in the original. There is still a lot to love, undoubtedly, but you don’t leave the cinema raving about him as much as you may have in the first.
IT: Chapter Two upholds the quality of the original. Not without flaws, but also unlikely to have you looking at your watch, this is a fun, freaky, popcorn horror.