“For 27 years I dreamt of you; I craved you. I’ve missed you,” says Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) to the now grown-up members of the Losers Club. They’ve reluctantly returned to Derry to finish what they thought they’d accomplished as kids – the death of the evil clown, Pennywise – in It Chapter Two, the conclusion of the film adaptation of Stephen King’s bestselling horror novel, It.
It’s been 27 years since the Losers Club defeated Pennywise and all but one member of the club has left their hometown of Derry. Mike (Isaiah Mustafa) is the exception, remaining behind to watch over the town to make sure the evil clown’s gone for good. As children once again go missing, Mike realizes they didn’t stop Pennywise. He’s awake once again and murdering the children of Derry.
One by one Mike calls his old friends to let them know Pennywise has returned. He needs them to come home and work together to stop “It,” just as they promised they’d do as children.
When they arrive in Derry, most of the Losers Club can’t even remember Pennywise or the summer when they all became friends and fought the evil shapeshifting clown together. But soon their memories flood back…along with the return of their terrifying fear of Pennywise. Bev (Jessica Chastain) has it worst because when she taken prisoner by Pennywise, she saw all their futures by staring into the grotesque clown’s “Deadlights.” She knows all their dark fates.
Terrified to go up against the clown again but still determined to be there for each other, the members of the Losers Club must get past their deepest fears and find the courage to once again try to destroy Pennywise who has become deadlier than ever.
Gory, suitably creepy, and at times funny, It Chapter Two is nowhere near as good as its predecessor. That said, it does bring the story to an entertaining and satisfying conclusion.
The sequel features a terrific ensemble cast, with stand-out performances by Bill Hader as Richie, James Ransone as Eddie, Jessica Chastain as Beverly, and Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise.
Bill Hader steals the film as Richie, the smart aleck comedian of the group who initially doesn’t want to risk his life to stop Pennywise. He eventually finds the courage to not only stand with his friends against the evil clown but to help them when their courage begins to falter. Hader is perfect in the role and adds some much-needed humor to a very dark and bloody film.
James Ransone does a wonderful job of portraying grown-up Eddie, the hypochondriac who’s still the most frightened of Pennywise. Ransone looks very much like Jack Dylan Grazer who played Eddie as a kid in the first film. Ransone also captures little mannerisms and facial expressions Grazer did in the first film which adds to the believability of him as an adult Eddie.
Jessica Chastain is spot-on in her portrayal of Beverly who’s haunted by both her fight with Pennywise when she was just a girl and the violence and emotional torture she went through with her father. Chastain brings to the screen Beverly’s vulnerability, fear, and strength almost as well as Sophia Lillis did in the first film.
Bill Skarsgard once again delivers a truly terrifying and unforgettable performance as Pennywise, the evil clown who wants the Losers Club to return so he can make them face their deepest, darkest fears and finish them off. Skarsgard’s Pennywise is sure to have the audience experiencing chills.
Director Andy Muschietti delivers more gore this time out than true jump scares or suspense, which brings down the fright factor more than a bit. The film also has a darker and more somber tone than its predecessor due to Derry becoming more and more like a ghost town and with the now grown up losers struggling with their fears, regrets, and missed opportunities.
What really hurts the film more than anything else is its exhausting and unnecessarily overlong running time of two hours and 49 minutes. The film’s third act in which the Losers Club go up against Pennywise in the final showdown is much too long and feels as though it will never end. There are also a few gross-out scenes that could have been tightened up.
Still, It Chapter Two is an engaging and ultimately worthwhile final chapter to Stephen King’s terrifying story.
MPAA Rating: R for disturbing violent content and bloody images throughout, pervasive language, and some crude sexual material
Release Date: September 6, 2019