Hey Andy, it’s me again. I wrote to you about It, explaining how the film felt likea standard yet effective horror movie elevated by great cast chemistry and a surprising amount of comedy.It was refreshing. Now, with the release of It Chapter Two, I figured it’s only fitting that I write a sequel review for your sequel. And like most sequels, my review will reference the original a lot and not be as good.
Chapter Two follows the lovable Losers Club from It, all grown-up. They have all moved on from their traumatic confrontation with Pennywise the Dancing Clown 27 years earlier and become successful in their own right (minus Mike who has become obsessed with Pennywise’s lore). Unfortunately for them, the demonic clown has returned, which forces The Losers Club to reunite once again and face their old foe, reopening old wounds in the process.
Chapter Two has the mark of a film which has benefited from the success of its predecessor. The budget is bigger, the runtime is longer, and the casting is stronger. Seriously, you need to give your casting director a massive raise. Not only does Chapter Two command heavyweights like James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, and Bill Hader, it’s the best example of a movie nailing casting based off an existing source. The adult versions of The Loser’s Club are splitting images of their younger counterparts. It’s impressive. Because of their likeness, I felt an immediate connection to the characters. I didn’t feel like I had to relearn who they were and what they were about. The transition was smooth, which is good news since the cast was the best part about It. As I mentioned in my previous review, if you measure It to any other horror movie based off its creep factor, it would toe the line. But if you base it off how audiences react to “the squad”, then you really do have something special on your hands.
Chapter Two is in the same boat. The Loser’s Club are stronger than ever. The people you assume to be great, are (McAvoy and Chastain). And the supporting characters refuse to be relegated to sidekick status. They are charming, complex, and worth taking a second look at. Adult Mike, played by former deodorant salesman-turned-actor, Isaiah Mustafah, has a much larger role in Chapter Two. James Ransone, who plays germaphobe Eddie, is absolutely hilarious. To the point where he almost rivals Bill Hader as the lovable comic relief. I say almost because Bill Hader is still Bill Hader, which means he is the stand-out of any room he’s in. He won’t be silenced and believe me, I know you tried. We both know you were two seconds away from murdering Hader in that clip but it's another example of the camaraderie you were able to create. I’d even say that Chapter Two is a comedy more than a horror movie.
I thought It teetered between horror and comedy. I think it’s safe to say that Chapter Two tips the scale. The movie is funny. A lot funnier than it should be. Was it the best decision? It’s hard to say. On one hand, it gives the film some reinforcement. I do think It would struggle to stand on its own without humour. On the other hand, it does undercut the scary vibe you’re going for. Although, I would be lying if I said I don’t want to see a spinoff buddy cop movie starring the psychotic bully Henry Bowers and his radical zombie getaway driver. Chapter Two doubles down on the laughs since it was so popular in It. A recurring theme that does bring its own challenges.
Like many sequels, I think Chapter Two focuses too much on amplifying its greatest hits rather than doing its own thing. There are some great, morsels of meat peppered throughout the movie but the payoff isn’t there. Take Beverly for example. One of the hardest pills to swallow from the prequel wasn’t a certain death. It was Beverly’s relationship with her abusive father. Chapter Two establishes that Beverly has been caught in a cycle of abuse all these years, replacing her abusive dad with an abusive husband. It’s trauma that is begging to be explored, Instead that journey is scrapped for a redo of the blood sink scene from the previous movie, only this time, there’s more blood! I’m narrowing in on this aspect but there’s plenty of more examples like Richie’s (surprise) repressed homosexuality, Henry’s stint in a psych ward, and more.
Had any of these themes been unraveled, the three hour runtime would be justified in my opinion. And that really is my biggest gripe with Chapter Two.
Yo, Andy, why so long?
Bill Skarsgard says it’s because you needed to take your time with the third act and give each of the seven protagonists their due. It’s commendable but Chapter Two doesn’t take advantage of this added length. The movie is a series of snippets of The Loser’s Club getting spooked but escaping at the nick of time. By the end, it feels like a series of unfortunate events strung together to fill up time. It’s bloated, as if a certain clown ate too many children in one sitting.
You would think after 27 years, Pennywise would be chomping at the bit to deliver sweet justice on The Loser’s Club. But that’s not really the case is it? It seems that Pennywise is more concerned with dicking around for the majority of the film rather than living up to the moniker of “killer clown”.
And sure, I get it, he’s a clown. Of course he’d get a kick out of toying with his prey before sealing the deal but when you multiply that to kill time, the mind games become exhausting. After a while, the effect wears off—which was definitely the case in my screening. The crowd was hot for the first and second half but by the third, there was a distinct lull that set in. Makes you wonder why Pennywise will go through all the trouble of concocting a psychological nightmare for The Loser’s Club but then bite the ribcage of some random dude in a hot second.
Sequels. Bigger, badder, and bloodier!
Chapter Two is an ambitious film. I know the modern adaption has amassed a strong following so I didn’t want to write this review without doing my due diligence. I watched your interviews so I could understand your headspace. I read up on the source material to better familiarize myself with the mythology. It’s clear you wanted to tackle aspects of fear, trauma, and repressed memories through the deranged antics of an inter-dimensional demon. Yet, that same ambition caused you to stumble into a longer, rehashed version of Chapter One without the same simplistic integrity.