HOLLYWOOD—I have been waiting since September 2017 to see how it would all end. It has been a very long time since a horror movie unnerved me, like the remake of “It” did. It was the first horror flick in quite some time that really placed children in the harm of evil and that opening sequence left me rattled. Fast-forward to 27 years later, and we have the adult version of the Losers Club with actors James McAvoy, Bill Hader and Jessica Chastain assuming the role of our protagonists. I have to warn audiences beforehand that “It: Chapter Two” is a long movie (clocking in at 2 hours and 49 minutes), and that is one of the drawbacks that falters the flick from delivering the punch that its predecessor gave to audiences.
Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) aka ‘It’ has returned from dormancy after being defeated by The Losers 27 years ago. It is now 2016, and the gang has gone their separate ways, with many seeing success, yet still being haunted by their past. Mike (Isiah Mustafa) was the only member to stay behind in Derry to study the history behind It, but in the process is suffering from substance abuse from his childhood. It is Mike who summons his pals back to their hometown, after a bunch of disappearances.
The script spends more time than it needs to give the audience an update on where our protagonists stand today. I mean Bill (McAvoy) is a successful novelist, Beverly (Chastain) is a prosperous fashion designer in Chicago, but stuck in an abusive marriage. Richie (Bill Hader) is a successful comedian and DJ, while Ben (Jay Ryan) is a financially powerful architect, with Eddie (James Ransone) still grappling with similar issues about being ill as an adult, but runs a successful limousine company in NYC, and Stanley (Andy Bean), operates a powerful accounting firm in Atlanta.
Is having this information important for the audience? I would argue not really. It gives us a slice of their lives, but I think our focus would be more glued on what Pennywise is up to and how he plans to exact vengeance on the kids, now adults that nearly killed him on those years ago. The first chapter did an exceptional job balancing its pacing with fabulous scares, however, this sequel struggles a bit with the pacing and the movie feels about 30 minutes longer than what it needs to be.
The movie tackles some heavy subjects like domestic violence and homophobia amongst others things. It doesn’t nearly feel out of place, but bigger than what the audience might come to expect of a horror movie. Chastain and McAvoy deliver solid performances, while Mustafa is solid as an older version of Mike Hanlon. However, there feels to be more to his story that could have been peeled away that is ignored.
Hader is absolutely fantastic as Richie, and when it was made clear a sequel was being made to the flick, Hader was my first thought and he nails the part balancing, fear, rage and laughter in a movie that is darker than some expect. Of course we cannot forget about Skarsgaard who immerses himself in perhaps a career defining role playing a villain who is as animated and vicious as an antagonist in the horror realm.
The question many have is rather “It: Chapter Two” delivers the scares. The answer to that question is: yes, but the scares are not as heightened as the first movie. They work, but that level of suspense that the first flick crafted, is slightly lacking this time around. You’re on edge watching the movie, but you’re not as unnerved as the first flick where you sense the level of dread, terror and uncertainty. Perhaps that may be a result of the chemistry between the youngsters and the adults. It is not fully there; some members are tighter than others, and as a spectator that is easy to see.
You will have fun watching “It: Chapter Two,” but at the same time it does not deliver the level of satisfaction one hopes for a movie that touts itself as the end of a villainous being. Satisfying? Without a doubt, better than its predecessor? Not a chance. This movie is scary, but hoped for just a bit more considering the success of the first film.