A satisfying conclusion to the Stephen King’s horror saga.
IT is back as the horrifying clown monster Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) returns in IT Chapter Two, adapting the second half of Stephen King’s iconic book of the same name. While 2017’s IT Chapter One was like Stranger Things and The Goonies with its kid protagonists and 80s nostalgia.
Meanwhile, IT Chapter Two is a more adult affair, one that allows for more depth and fleshed out plot details, albeit with a few stumbles along the way.
Excellent Ensemble Cast
IT Chapter Two boasts an ensemble cast oozing star power, including the likes of James McAvoy (Bill), Jessica Chastain (Beverly), Bill Hader (Richie), Isaiah Mustafa (Mike), Jay Ryan (Ben), James Ransone (Eddie), and Andy Bean (Stanley).
What makes it especially impressive is the great chemistry between the members of the Losers Club that sells the idea of them being old friends who’ve drifted apart over the years but still with affection and love for each other.
They’re also essentially splitting images of their younger counterparts from the first movie, all of whom also reprise their respective roles during the many flashback sequences in IT Chapter Two.
The highlight of the adult losers has to be Bill Hader’s Richie, who brings much-needed humour, levity and wit to the movie when interacting with his other fellow Losers. The others are brilliant as well, though some are luckier than others. For instance, Isaiah Mustafa’s Mike doesn’t get much to do in the movie, as he’s been tasked for the role of spewing exposition and basically what amounts to being a plot device.
27 Years Later…
The story in IT Chapter Two picks up 27 years after the events of the first movie. The Loser Club have all but disbanded and have their own lives in different places, with the exception of Mike who chose to remain in Derry all those years.
One day when a horrible homophobic attack ends bloodier than expected, Mike realises that it signals the return of Pennywise, and chose to assemble all the members of the Loser Club by calling them one by one.
It turns out that almost everyone who left Derry has somehow conveniently forgotten their childhood experiences and life in Derry in the 80s. In fact, IT Chapter Two features a lot of conveniences, or rather, ridiculous setups to move the plot forward.
The best part about IT Chapter One is watching the kids spending time together as a group. Halfway through IT Chapter Two, the adult Losers Club are forced to split up for the sake of collecting a MacGuffin object (think Marvel’s Infinity Stone) in the hopes of stopping IT.
One of the adult Losers (bless you, Bill Hader) even point out how dumb that would be (to split up), but once again, a convenient line spoken by Mike halts the argument there and then. However, I wouldn’t say that it’s all bad, as it was necessary to get the Losers separated and on their own for the movie to work.
IT Chapter Two is all about how no matter how far or how long you run from your fear, it will always be there lingering and festering unless you gather up the will to face and conquer it.
During each of the respective Losers’ solo quests, Pennywise torments them by digging up past traumas and painful childhood memories that they have repressed in adulthood. This is when the cast of the first movie plays into the movie during the aforementioned flashback sequences.
These horror setpieces are the definite highlights of the movie, as Bill Skarsgård gets to strut his stuff as Pennywise and heighten up the creep factor. However, there are also a lot more CGI used in IT Chapter Two, with mixed results (though one scene, in particular, felt like an awesome homage to 1982’s The Thing).
I like how these parts serve not only as some sort of secret origin/history for the characters but also flesh them out further by exploring their unresolved issues. Once in the movie, James McAvoy’s Bill even remarks about how life doesn’t always end the way you want it to, which is poetic.
Compared to the mysterious and ominous boogeyman that Pennywise was in IT Chapter One, we learn more about the origins of the murderous entity. Though I would love for the movie to dive even deeper in the schlocky fantasy science fiction lore of the book, the movie had to hold back to avoid meandering into non-horror too much.
There are hints of Stephen King’s larger Macroverse elements at play in IT Chapter Two, and hardcore fans of the author will have a great time spotting these subtle easter eggs. That’s not even mentioning a special unmissable cameo by a certain master of horror himself.
The climax of IT Chapter Two also relies on convenience and deus ex machina, which may rub people the wrong way (they did with some of my fellow colleagues). However, I think it ultimately fits with the overall theme of the movie, and that’s okay, no matter how cheesy or corny it got in the end.
The End Of IT
Director Andy Muschietti has deftly commanded a great ensemble cast with a sense of grace, though some might find the 2 hours and 50-minute runtime a bit too bloated. That wasn’t the case for me, as I found myself engrossed in the adventures of the Losers Club yet again, facing both their fears and the abstract cosmic being that is Pennywise.
Will it be as iconic as the IT 1990 miniseries? Only time will tell.
FINAL SCORE: 80/100
We received a preview screening courtesy of BuzzpopTV and Warner Bros Malaysia. IT Chapter Two premieres in Malaysian cinemas on 5 September 2019.