It: Chapter Two (2019) – movie review

Pennywise in It: Chapter Two - Image Credit: Courtesy of Warner Brothers

After the somewhat unexpected success of 2017 It, which is now the highest-grossing horror film of all-time, people were excited to watch the conclusion of the Losers Club’s saga.

As for me, Stephen King’s It is my favourite novel from the legendary author but, as I said before on this website, I don’t like to compare books with movies as they belong to completely different media. Besides, I loved the 2017 version of It: in my review I praised the movie a lot, it ended up being on my favourite horror films of 2017 list and, upon watching it a second and third time, I consider it to be my favourite horror blockbuster of the last 20 years. Naturally, I was very excited for Chapter Two, although I didn’t expect it to reach the level of the first one.

As you know, the story of It: Chapter Two is set 27 years after the Losers Club fights and defeats Pennywise, the dancing clown. Aside from Mike, all the kids have grown up and moved away, which caused them to forget what happened 27 years before: one day, a devastating phone call from Mike brings them back together because Pennywise returned. This time, the Losers Club needs to kill the dancing clown once and for all.

Continue reading my spoiler-free review and check the final grade below… 

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In case you haven’t seen the film yet, you’re probably asking yourself two big questions. Is It: Chapter Two as good as the first one? The answer is: no. Is It: Chapter Two a good movie, though? Well…

According to some previews and early comments, many critics and audience members complained about the nearly-3-hour-long runtime, whereas I think the movie owns it in this regard. Chapter Two is, indeed, very long, but it manages to set a very fast pace and to fill nearly every scene with something that holds your attention. You really don’t feel the runtime, here, as there is a lot going on.

The movie, also, features a very strong opening: it’s well-shot and relies on real-life horror, showcasing the dangers of small-town mentality. At the same time, the introduction to Pennywise in this film is glorious: once again, Bill Skarsgård takes central stage in the first act and his creepy presence is enhanced by some vicious and graphic attacks that make for very impactful early scenes.

However, the impact is soon watered down by the movie becoming repetitive and relying too much on poorly-rendered CGI. The way the story unfolds turns Chapter Two into a compilation of shorts: every adult character is defined over a single, quick scene and, once they’ve returned to Derry, each one of them faces Pennywise alone in sequences that always end up with a big jump-scare.

The way this movie is structured feels very formulated and repetitive: every scene shows a character dealing with their fears and the scene always ends with a jump-scare. Although the build-up is well-done, this gimmick gets stale and tiresome quickly, as you see it done over and over in the same fashion for multiple main characters. Also, it doesn’t help that most of the scares in the movie rely on incredibly cheap and noticeable CGI: every subtle hint of tension disappears as soon as a fake-looking giant monster pops out on screen. The awful special effects are particularly dreadful during the grand finale, as you feel like you’re in a videogame rather than experiencing something terrifying the characters are going through.

Even though Chapter Two stays quite consistent with the combination of horror and comedy (and some jokes/visual gags are genuinely funny), seeing adult characters joking with each other when Pennywise is threatening their life feels very out of place and ridiculous, in a way that I don’t think was intended.

Yet, the film falls into a very common trap: it relies on cameos and 80s movie references to carry some scenes that wouldn’t serve any purpose in the story otherwise. It’s a cheap trick that many flicks utilise nowadays: it might be nice fan service, but it doesn’t implement story nor visuals whatsoever.

Bill Skarsgård himself is criminally underutilised in the movie, as his creepy acting and mannerism we witnessed in the first film is replaced, here, by laughable and formulaic special effects. The other characters, however, were written quite cleverly: Andy Muschietti (the director) was smart enough to give the best arc to characters played by lesser actors, knowing that Jessica Chastain (as Beverly) and James McAvoy (as Bill) would do a fantastic job even with little to work with. Speaking of the casting, the biggest surprise for me was Eddie, played by James Ransone: I never considered him as a decent actor, but he shines in this movie and, in my opinion, his character is the most interesting in the whole picture.

Despite the laughably bad special effects and some editing choices during one confrontation scene, It: Chapter Two is competently made: nothing stands out in the movie, but there isn’t a single instance when the way the movie is shot feels distracting or poorly thought out.

I believe most casual horror fans will, at least, enjoy It: Chapter Two. I don’t think it’s a bad movie, but it is extremely disappointing given the potential, its phenomenal source material, the talent involved (in front and behind the camera) and the financial support it could rely on. While entertaining and watchable throughout, this film is messy, repetitive, confusing and bogged down by poor effects.

It: Chapter Two                                       5/10

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