Starrring: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Skarsgård
Director: Andy Muschietti
Running Time: 169 mins
It Chapter Two is an American film and the sequel to It. 27 years after being haunted by Pennywise, the kids of The Losers’ Club return to their hometown, only to find that the horrors of their childhood are far from gone.
Following on from what has to be one of the most unexpected blockbusters of the decade, It Chapter Two carries on its predecessor’s bold take on folk horror, this time bringing us right up to the modern day with the Losers all grown up, and doing battle with the fearsome Pennywise over an even more intimidating 2 hour and 49 minute runtime.
It’s fair to say, then, that there’s a lot at stake in It Chapter Two, and with that bold, ambitious style that makes this a whole lot more than your average jumpscare horror, there’s also a lot to like about it.
But if there’s one thing that you’re here for, it’s a thrill and a fright by the antics of the ruthless clown that haunts the town of Derry: old Pennywise.
And fortunately, much like the first film, Pennywise is the best part of It Chapter Two as well. Although I wouldn’t say this is ever a particularly scary film, and a lot less fright-intense than the first movie, there’s a certain destructive glee whenever the clown appears on screen.
Once again, he lures his victims with a sinister eye, and although some of his attacks are on the more ludicrous end of the horror spectrum, director Andy Muschietti’s passion for the character and the return of a deranged performance from Bill Skarsgård bring a brilliant fun factor to the nightmare clown, and help to make this film as entertaining as can be.
Another big plus about It Chapter Two is just how fast and action-focused it is. With a runtime that hits nearly three hours, you’d expect there to be a lot of downtime, and the potential for a rather exhaustive movie that would have been better over a shorter duration.
However, while the movie is a little overlong (I’ll get to that in a moment), I was hugely impressed by just how fast-paced it was, featuring almost nonstop action for the majority of the second and third acts, and still managing to weave an engaging story in the middle of it all.
It doesn’t always have the more touching quiet moments of the last movie, but this sequel doesn’t put the same emphasis on childhood nostalgia, it does well to fill in those gaps with thoroughly entertaining action and excitement right the way through.
However, as impressively entertaining and action-packed as the film is throughout, I feel that it’s really missing something extra that made the first film feel that little bit more special.
As I said, the first movie had some really touching scenes that played brilliantly on elements of childhood nostalgia, as well as clever allegories and references to the coming-of-age genre and classic movies like Stand By Me, giving it something to separate it from the average horror flick.
This sequel, while also better than a generic frightfest, never really has that same tenderness, with arguably too much action for its own good, missing out on that more human depth.
The lead performances, too, while all perfectly good, don’t quite gel together in the same way as the first film. Originally, the band of the Losers all had great chemistry, while being equally united as they followed their group leader, brilliantly portrayed by Sophia Lillis.
This time round, though, that same chemistry isn’t quite there, and the grown-up versions of the Losers just don’t feel entirely suited battling Pennywise once again.
So that’s what I felt It Chapter Two was missing most. Otherwise, it definitely runs too long, with a painfully repetitive (albeit action-packed) middle act, which makes those three hours feel a little more than was actually necessary.
And finally, as fun as a lot of the action is, I felt that the movie went a little overboard with its blending of reality and fantasy. It was a clever twist that worked well in the first film, but the number of times that we see Pennywise attack and even harm people – only for it to turn out as a hallucination or something – is just excessive, and it really does cheapen the impact of what could have been a far more intense or even frightening film.
Overall, then, there’s a lot to digest about It Chapter Two. Despite its near-three hour runtime, it’s not the exhaustive drag that you might expect, instead proving thoroughly entertaining with fantastic action, brilliantly fast pacing, and a gleefully deranged Pennywise once again.
On the flipside, though, the film lacks the more tender moments and emotions of its predecessor, while also suffering from a rather repetitive screenplay and a little too much use of unsatisfying twists throughout.
In short, It Chapter Two is a very fun watch, but not quite as strong as its memorable predecessor, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.4.