It Chapter Two: Terrifying, enjoyable, but unfulfilling

New Line Cinema’s horror thriller "IT CHAPTER TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Brooke Palmer.
New Line Cinema’s horror thriller "IT CHAPTER TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Brooke Palmer. /
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IT Chapter Two deserves a positive recommendation from all who watch it, but there are definitely glaring flaws that leave viewers wanting.

IT Chapter Two is the follow-up to when the Losers – a rag-tag group of kids who fought an alien, killer clown – made it out of Derry, Maine alive, and moved on with their lives. They forgot about where they came from, and all the details of their experiences. Their collective redemption is the heart of the story, and the actors make the strength of their union believable. There are, however, multiple issues keeping  the film from being as amazing as its prequel.

Spoiler: If you haven’t watched IT Chapter Two yet, back away like the Homer Simpson meme.

Unsatisfying endings

There’s a running gag during pretty much the nearly seven three-hour run-time of IT Chapter Two that picks at now successful author Bill Denbrough’s (James McAvoy) work. People like his work but despise his endings. The same has been said for Stephen King over the years, and he’s even in on the joke during the movie. King sells Bill’s childhood bike back to him and mentions the poor book endings.

Director Andy Muschietti hints at these criticisms not just for King, but also because the inevitable outcry from fans and critics about IT Chapter Two being inferior to its predecessor. The problem, however, is it’s still true.

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Muschietti was smart to divide the massive source material into two chapters, focusing on the children in round one and adults in round two. It allowed full exploration of how the children dealt with Pennywise, and learned about themselves as a group. Unfortunately, the adults’ portion of the story is just a bit lackluster.

Pennywise

The most positive aspect of the film is that Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise, the evil clown that resurfaces like herpes every 27 years, is as terrifying as ever. Each creepy whisper and wall-eyed closeup causes ipecac uneasiness.

Conversely, the Pennywise powers are somewhat vague and undefined, leaving viewers wondering why the evil clown didn’t just kill the various Losers during the 10-20 opportunities throughout the REM-causing run-time.

Most of the cast is fantastic.

Let’s talk about how awesome Bill Hader is. He absolutely smashes the Richie “Trashmouth” Tozier role, delivering nervous one-liners perfect for a guy who grows up to be a comedian. While the others let out a groaner line here and there, it’s Richie who truly steals the show. The strong performance silver medal is reserved for James Ransone as hypochondriac Eddie, who is now a risk analyst of all things.

The strengths of the film, and the intent of the story itself, is group strength overcoming individual fears. It’s just too bad the film doesn’t focus on the group very often. Instead, the group is split into their own interesting revelations.

Nonetheless, James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain are the heavy-hitters in terms of name recognition, but they are just solid performers. There’s no real exploration of who they are, what motivates them, how they became who they are. This feels like a script problem. Speaking of which, kudos to Jay Ryan for perfecting the 63 times instances of “Ben stares longingly at Beverly” undoubtedly shoehorned into the script.

Last but certainly not least is Isaiah Mustafa as Mike, who was basically used to literally fill in the memory gaps for the rest of the Losers and the fans alike. It would have been nice if he were more troubled, but he did a fine job considering I whistled the Old Spice jingle in my head several times he appeared on screen.

Call 911, or not.

While it’s not pertinent to the story, the complete lack of a police presence in Derry, Maine is bizarre. Nobody made a call when Mike (Isaiah Mustafa) trashes the Asian joint? Not to mention the Eddie disappearing without followup, and no detectives asking about Stanley after his suicide/not-suicide letter.

Hell, there’s not even an APB on Henry Bowers (Teach Grant) when he escapes from a mental home? Or a question about the blood in the bed and breakfast bathroom. And when he ends up with a rear-head hatchet attachment courtesy of Ben, nearly nobody bats an eye.

Even more hilarious is the ending. When the house collapses like a limestone sink-hole, and the Losers are left covered in blood with dropped jaws, nobody drives by to ask why they look like Carrie after the prom, or what precisely happened to the house.

Of course, that’s always been a mystery about It. With all the missing children and mysteriousness involved, the cops never materialize.

What’s even more bizarre, considering how King went to great lengths to create the town with vivid imagery, is how much Derry, Maine appears to be a ghost town with a population of less than 50 people. I had to go to the IMDB page to ensure a tumbleweed wasn’t credited.

Next. IT Chapter Two: Richie and Eddie. dark

Ultimately the film just falls short of the original. The BBB love triangle has massive issues. The overly politicized message that Derry, representing middle-town-USA, is the real evil, fraught with overwhelming bigotry and various -isms, just isn’t that convincing.

Perhaps the Asian restaurant scene is suiting. Much like IT Chapter Two, there is plenty material to satiate, but the desire for something more lingers shortly thereafter.

IT Chapter Two is currently in theaters.