It Chapter Two Movie Review
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In 2016, Derry once again falls into the cycle of the missing and dead. Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa), the long remainder of the Loser’s Club begins the arduous task of reminding the other 6 of their promise: if It returns, they’ll return to fight. Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy) is a writer, even if his books have garbage endings. Beverly Marsh (Jessica Chastian) is a fashion designer, married to an abusive husband. Ritchie Tozier (Bill Hader) is a stand-up comedian, Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransome) is a risk management adjuster, Stan Uris (Andy Bean) is an accountant, Ben Hanscomb (Jay Ryan) is an architect. All of them have shaken off the horror of Derry and gone on to be relatively successful and mildly happy if broken by their individual traumas. Mike alone has stayed, becoming the archivist for the horrors of Derry, unable to forget what happened and documenting the evil that has always lived in and under Derry, Maine. Unhappy that they’ve been summoned for more than a reunion, but unable to shake that Derry is someplace they have to be, they begin to remember the strong powerful youths they once were. They band together one last time to fight It (Bill Skarsgård), manifesting again as the terrifying clown Pennywise to lure the unwary and lonely to feast on their damaged bodies.
It has issues of Its own. The Losers Club defeated It once before hibernating in 1989, and It wants them back, baiting Mike at a crime scene with a message written in blood: COME HOME COME HOME COME HOME. Pennywise tells them, “For 27 years, I dreamt of you. I craved you… I’ve missed you!”. When they each search for the tokens that made them nearly invincible in 1989, It taunts them with fear and despair. It sends them one last curveball in the form of Henry Bowers (Teach Grant), because while supernatural monsters are scary, human monsters are unpredictable as well as terrifying.
If you’re expecting It Chapter Two to be bloodier and gorier and more adult, you won’t be disappointed. It Chapter One (2017) dealt with childhood trauma and loss, Chapter Two zeros in on that unresolved trauma. Bill faces the guilt of losing his brother, Beverly squares with unrequited love and sexual abuse from basically every adult man in her life, Ritchie and Ben are deeply unhappy with an unrequited love story of their own, Eddie needs to see the forest and the trees with permission of his overbearing mother and then his wife before taking a step anywhere. Stan can never measure up or live beyond everyone else’s expectations, Mike relives the loss of his parents and lives while Black in Podunk Derry, Maine. It is a deep plush tapestry of fear, loss, and terror, reminding us that our childhood bonds are often the strongest, even if we don’t remember them.
For those of you that remember the book, neither Tom Rogan nor Audra Denbrough shows up as wrenches in the Losers’ grand scheme, and frankly, that’s fine. There is plenty going on that two minor characters aren’t missed. Everything left is essential to the story.
The epic undertaking is not without flaws. It feels long and soggy in the middle and some of the exposition seems to drag out the tension a few beats too long. There is a lot of blood, and some looks a little cheap, but if you’re focused on CGI blood falling up, this movie can hold no promise for you. It is Rated R for a reason, so don’t bring your littles – 1, you’ll irritate the rest of us trying to enjoy a film, and 2, you’re being irresponsible.
Lots of positives – the casting is aces! Bill Hader is an absolute delight channeling Ritchie’s dark, sardonic humor. Get ready to smile big when Bill finds a beloved childhood friend in the window of an antique shop. Joan Gregson’s Mrs. Kersh pulls off one of the craziest portrayals of little old ladies with nefarious plans. I must see a movie with Joan Gregson and Lin Shaye as soon as possible!
You may not walk away loving It Chapter Two, but you will admit that for a sequel, It’s earned the right to stand proudly with Chapter One. This is a fun horror movie, with the right balance of chills, thrills, and giggles, and definitely should be seen more than once. It Chapters One and Two are worthy successors to the 1990 ABC miniseries starring Richard Thomas, Annette O’Toole, Harry Anderson, and Tim Curry. Everything is bigger and scarier 27 years later.
It Chapter Two is Rated R for PUSHING 3 HOURS, swears, children being eaten (mostly off-screen), Pennywise drooling (like a lot), a head that sprouts lots of legs, suicide, sacrifice, people being impaled, people being stabbed, people dying horribly, and the grief that comes from knowing the friends and deep bonds you had when you were 11 are lost to time.