'IT: Chapter Two' Review
September 12, 2019
In 1913, Henry Ford introduced the assembly line to the Ford Motor Company. He made a ton of money and was hailed as a leading innovator. Now just a hundred years later, director Andy Musciehtti brings that same assembly line principle to IT Chapter Two as he serves up his scary products in the exact fashion as the one before.
This sequel to the highest-grossing horror movie of all time (unadjusted) takes place 27 years later in the same town of Derry, Maine. The rambunctious kids are all adults now and have gone on their separate paths to some form of success. Unfortunately, the good fortune for each is put to an end by the return of Pennywise, who seeks more victims for his twisted games. Being the only ones that have stopped the evil force, the adults must come together again to put an end to this bloody mess.
Director Andy Muschietti returns behind the camera after the record-breaking success he earned from 2017’s It. For the second time around, Muschietti goes even bigger and bolder than before, both in terms of the horror set pieces and the length.
When it comes to giving audiences what they came to see, Muschietti delivers by adding even more blood, gore, and creepiness. Pennywise’s indescribable powers get even more creative as his prey are stalked and slaughtered with unnerving brutality.
The biggest fault that plagued the previous film was its recycling of cheap jump scares that were meant to artificially hold your attention. That same problem is even more glaring in the sequel as any scary moments are just startling moments where something pops out at the screen. The more they happen, the more predictable and boring they are to watch.
A runtime is never indicative of quality by itself, every movie should earn its length through skill and craftsmanship. And at 170 minutes, IT Chapter Two falls way short of earning its record-breaking runtime. Instead of the horror being a slow burn, it's more of a slow churn as the recycled jump scares quickly lose their minuscule luster and make this already long film feel even longer.
Screenwriter Gary Dauberman takes up the impossible task of adapting Stephen King, a challenge that has killed the careers of countless adapters before him. He tries his best to break away from the ridiculousness within King’s novel, but his efforts end up backfiring on him and make the film even more awkward as some elements are left in and some left out. The story wants you to take it pretty seriously, but keeping in the weird elements makes that almost an impossible task.
Muschietti didn’t do much to justify the excessive length, but Dauberman should shoulder more of the blame for his uneven pacing. The film starts great with the together and playing off each other with a fun and brisk pace. Then, against all logic, Dauberman has them split up for ninety minutes, severely slowing things to a crawl and forcing the jump scares to keep you awake.
The highest regard should go to casting director Rich Delia as he has brilliantly put together a group of adult actors that uncannily look like their younger counterparts. Unfortunately, good looks are the only quality some actors possess here.
James McAvoy does fine as Bill. The most evident acting trait he shows off is his struggle to hide his Scottish accent with a less-than-convincing New England one.
Having a rocky 2019, to say the least, Jessica Chastain follows up the bomb that was Dark Phoenix with another subpar performance. She doesn’t shine as brightly as Sophia Lillis’ younger Beverly despite being the more acclaimed actress with a lot more screen time.
The standout performances come from the two Bills in the cast, Hader and Skarsgård. Hader plays adult Richie and fairs the best in the cast at toeing the line between drama and comedy. Skarsgård as Pennywise is a sight to see but unfortunately doesn’t get seen for long stretches. Between him and Heath Ledger’s Joker, future performances for clowns now have an insanely high bar to reach.
With over five hours of material between the two films, the It series has come to a less than satisfying close with IT Chapter Two. There are some things to admire Muschietti and co. for doing or trying to do. But for every great Bill Skarsgård moment (which is all of them), there were just as many moments of wasted potential due to unoriginal filmmaking. Overall, between its highs and lows, IT Chapter Two makes for a semi-enjoyable time. Just make sure to bring a seat cushion.