It Chapter Two Movie Review
It Chapter Two is like the unnecessary sequel to a nostalgic movie made 20 years ago, in which the old, tired cast reunites to deliver a repetitive and subpar experience. The problem is that this is the sequel to a movie made just two years ago.
The first It, which was also directed by Andy Muschietti and written by Gary Dauberman, wasn’t the scariest movie in the world, but it was an effective studio horror film that had an amazing young cast, a creepy demon-clown named Pennywise, and the biggest horror movie opening of all time.
It Chapter Two, based on the second half of Stephen King’s extremely long book, reunites the characters--but this time as adults, as they have to face their fears once again to defeat Pennywise once and for all.
This time around, you sort of wish Pennywise would dispense with everyone early on.
The movie oddly starts with a scene involving two gay men who are beaten half to death and then attacked by Pennywise. You never see the attackers again, nor is it explained why Pennywise is now targeting adults.
That’s the first clue that there is something a bit off about this second round--the entire movie has a sense of randomness (and ultimately redundancy) and slight incoherency that is only exasperated by it’s ridiculous three-hour running time, which proves to be an hour and a half too much cheap horror. Muschietti and Dauberman allude to things--perhaps a homosexual relationship between two of the main characters, domestic abuse of another, and other seemingly important character elements--without the willingness to actually develop any of these subplots, strange given the movie’s generous length. Other pieces seem to have been left on the cutting room floor, perhaps waiting for a four-hour director’s cut down the road.
But more critically, It Chapter Two just feels like a bland, over-stretched rehash, in which everyone--the filmmakers, the cast, and by the end, most certainly the audience--feels tired. The best part about 2017’s It was the young, dynamic cast; as adults, the characters are much less interesting, let alone inspiring. Jessica Chastain is somehow overshadowed by her young counterpart Sophia Lillis, James McAvoy, another accomplished talent, overacts the entire picture, and poor Isaiah Mustafa appears to be out of his depth (granted, he’s also saddled with a role that has to discuss lame rituals and Pennywise’s backstory). Only Bill Hader seems to be fully present.
Even Pennywise (Bill Skarsgaard) looks (and feels) exhausted.
Speaking of the young cast, they are in the movie for more time than you think, but that’s only because the filmmakers spend much of the movie rotating from character to character, flashing back to that fateful summer over and over again, to show Pennywise tormenting them--as if we don’t already know they survive to adulthood. It’s an extremely tedious and unnecessary experience.
It Chapter Two still conjures up a few scary parts, though arguably one of the best sequences (featuring Jessica Chastain and an old woman) was used prominently, and in turn rendered impotent, by the marketing department. It also has a fair amount of funny parts (most intentional), driven largely by Hader’s performance.
Had this second It been the length of an average horror film (90 - 100 minutes) and had the filmmakers shown serious restraint by streamlining the story, it would have been a perfectly fine if unremarkable picture.
But at two hours and 45 minutes long, It Chapter Two is a sporadically entertaining and largely frustrating film in which the scariest thing is not Pennywise but the complete lack of editing discipline.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.