by Kyle Arango
Clowns have always been something that have been at the top of my list of the most terrifying things in the world. Right behind your parents calling you by all three names. Two years ago, Andy Muschietti brought that fear to life with his adaptation of Stephen King’s It. Now we’re back with the second and final installment to this brutally scary series in It Chapter 2, can it go out on top and solidify clowns being the worst thing known to man? Yes, but that’s not to say the franchise went out with a bang. While terrifying and a thrilling crowd pleaser, the film can’t help but retrace its steps and create something we are mostly familiar with.
It Chapter 2 picks up 27 years from where the first film left off. The Losers’ Club is all grown up and have gone their separate ways and left Derry, Maine. Aside from Mike, the rest of the Losers’ have a faint recollection of what happened when they were kids. But because Mike never left, he constantly has Pennywise on his mind. When children start going missing again in Derry and people are getting torn up, Mike realizes Pennywise is back and he calls all his friends to return to where it all started and put an end to Pennywise and his antics once and for all. When the first film came out two years ago, it took the world by storm. It became the highest grossing horror film of all time and holds the September box office record by a mile. The anticipation for the sequel was high with many hoping to be scared again. If you loved the first one, I believe you will love this. It has everything you want from a horror film about a killer clown who turns into your worst fear, it just doesn’t quite nail the dismount
Now, I have never read the book this is based on, so I’m not sure how much is different, but what I’ve always heard is that the ending isn’t very good. They certainly play into that here and from what they presented us, it became a detriment. Biggest problem I have with this film is its essentially the same film as the first one. I won’t spoil it, but the plot basically follows the same beats as the film from two years ago and once you realize that halfway through, it gets frustrating. You are seeing the same story just with adults. However, what the film does in the storytelling that I appreciated was it mixes its story with flashbacks to them as kids again. Some of those scenes work very well and brings more weight to the characters while others are just excuses for more scares. They also used de-aging technology on the kids since they grew up so fast. In some scenes its noticeable and distracting while others it is seamless. Point being, It Chapter 2 is a frustrating mixed bag. There is stuff here you just can’t get enough of while other things you just despise.
Something I do not despise however is the cast and director. Everybody played the casting game after the first one. Who is going to play their adult versions? All of them are terrific but the standouts are definitely James McAvoy, Bill Hader, and Isaiah Mustafa. Bill Hader especially balances that line of being funny and grounded at the same time and in some scenes, really shows what he’s made of. Same goes for Mustafa who really anchors the entire crew as the one to bring them together. Finally, McAvoy is just a powerhouse actor who shows so much range and raw emotion as Bill. This guy is the most underrated actor working today. You might be saying, what about Jessica Chastain? She’s fantastic. She just doesn’t get much to do compared to her character in the original. Her scenes are few and far between. Andy Muschietti does know how to direct horror. He builds up the tension so well and even when you know a scare is coming, it still gets you. What he does well though is balance the character development and scares. Other filmmakers forget to flesh out the characters in horror, not Muschietti. Expect him to be one of the leading voices in the horror genre for years to come.
So at the end of the day, I liked It Chapter 2, but I wanted to love it. There are so many moments of greatness that exist, but they get brought down by a story too familiar. Bill Skarsgard is still terrifying as Pennywise, and the cast is stellar which help make this film a fun experience. It is not as good as the first one, but if you enjoy that film, you’ll enjoy this one.
The Verdict: 3.5/5 Stars