Dan's Review: "It Chapter Two" Keeps the Creepiness Going
Sep 08, 2019 10:33PM
By Dan Metcalf
Bill Skarsgård in It Chapter Two - © 2019 Warner Bros.
It Chapter Two (Warner Bros.)
Rated R for disturbing violent content and bloody images throughout, pervasive language, and some crude sexual material.
Starring Bill Skarsgård, Jessica Chastain, Sophia Lillis, James McAvoy, Jaeden Martell, Bill Hader, Finn Wolfhard, Isaiah Mustafa, Chosen Jacobs, Jay Ryan, Jeremy Ray Taylor, James Ransone, Jack Dylan Grazer, Andy Bean, Wyatt Oleff, Javier Botet, Jackson Robert Scott, Joan Gregson, Owen Teague, Teach Grant, Hamilton, Molly Atkinson, Luke Roessler, Xavier Dolan, Taylor Frey, Jake Weary, Jess Weixler, Will Beinbrink, Stephen Bogaert, Joe Bostick, Juno Rinaldi, Charpentier, Stephen King, Peter Bogdanovich.
Written by Gary Dauberman, based on the novel by Stephen King.
Directed by Andy Muschietti.
Sequels are always a dicey affair, with studios and their desire to “one-up” themselves to pacify needy audiences. One thing It Chapter Two has going for it (no pun intended) is the reality that the movie’s 2017 predecessor is based on the first half of Stephen King’s novel, so it’s not technically a sequel, but the second act of the same story. As outlined in my 2017 review of It, I’m not a big horror movie fan and even less so enamored with Stephen King’s horror stories. I do love films based on his non-horror stories, like Stand by Me, The Shawshank Redemption, Dolores Claiborne, and The Green Mile. Such stories buoyed by sympathetic characters engaged in the development of realistic situations, overcoming conflict by developing genuine relationships. Even though It qualifies as a horror film, these “human” elements of King’s successful non-horror movies are present in the It saga, making it (again, no pun intended) more palatable than King’s “buckets-o-blood” horror flicks.
As explained in “Chapter One,” the town of Derry, Maine is inflicted by an evil force, embodied by the creepy clown “Pennywise” (Bill Skarsgård) that reveals itself every 27 years. The events of the first chapter were set in 1989, making 2016 (the setting for Chapter Two) ripe for another clown appearance. Pennywise doesn’t disappoint as the disappearances and murder rate ticks up in frequency, grabbing the attention of Mike Hanlon (Isiah Mustafa as an adult and Chosen Jacobs as a child), one of the members of “The Losers,” a group of Derry outcasts drawn together by Pennywise’s antics of 1989. The other “Losers” are Bill, (James McAvoy as an adult and Jaeden Martell as a teen), Beverly (Jessica Chastain, Sophia Lillis), Richie (Bill Hader, Finn Wolfhard), Ben (Jay Ryan, Jeremy Ray Taylor), Eddie (James Ransone, Jack Dylan Grazer), and Stanley (Andy Bean, Wyatt Oleff). Mike summons the other “Losers” back to Derry, informing them that their 1989 victory over Pennywise gave the town a 27-year reprieve and that they would need to return to finish him off. Despite their own adult problems and the magical effect created by leaving Derry that clouds their memories of Pennywise, the group (except one) returns home to confront the clown again. The “Losers” are forced to tackle their traumatic memories before they can face Pennywise and try to take him out for good.
It Chapter Two is the perfect follow-up to the first chapter, reuniting the original cast while introducing the adult troupe. The two different versions of the characters are well-matched in appearance and personality, which successfully maintains the chemistry from the first film. That chemistry feels genuine, despite the distractions of the homicidal clown, again expertly played by Bill Skarsgård.
Much like the 1980s nostalgia of the Netflix "Stranger Things" series, It Chapter Two gets a lot of mileage from the chemistry of the main characters. This chemistry between both ensembles is enough to keep It Chapter Two from drowning in all the hackneyed staples of other King novel adaptations, which usually rely on tropes such as gore, demonic possession, and mean bullies getting their comeuppance by supernatural means. Many of King’s lazy horror devices are still there, like the reliance on phony Native American lore and simplistic alien entities, but these common “King” flaws are thankfully overshadowed by the camaraderie and appeal of “The Losers” in their mission to overcome the fears of their past.
Warning: Like the first film, It Chapter Two earns its R-rating, with plenty of language, gore, and violent death (also involving children). Simply put, "It" isn’t for kids.
"It Chapter Two" Trailer