When Andy Muschietti’s IT dropped in 2017 it broke box office records and quickly became one of the few successful translations of a Stephen King novel to the big screen. It was chilling, thrilling and tremendously well acted by such a young cast. IT Chapter Two is bigger in every way. The runtime reaches a staggering 2 hours 48 minutes (though it flies by), the grown-up Losers Club is as star-studded as a Marvel entry and the big bad gains a whole bag of new tricks. Most of that works.
But for all the anticipation and the runway, IT Chapter Two loses something. Not its beating heart, the emotional core of the Losers Club is by far the most compelling element of this bookend, but perhaps its scrappy spirit. Or perhaps it’s just that King’s novel is uneven. Whatever the reason, its budget or its book, IT Chapter Two just doesn’t have the same hook. The cast is uncanny and the performances from Losers young and old make for tremendously fun viewing that makes up for the occasionally pointless bobs and weaves of the story.
What feels lacking here is the horror. While the creature budget seems to have made massive gains, the chills feel recycled or worse, flat when Bill Skarsgard is pulled away from his leering stares and high-pitched screeches in favor of massive transformations and elaborate set-pieces. It’s all pretty fantastical, but it lacks the resonance of the quiet looks between Bev and Ben or the grasping questions of Ritchie and Bill, even the fanatic belief of Mike.
For all its length and prying into the past, IT Chapter Two leaves us a little light on who the Losers grew up to be, but it does bring crackling humor to the forefront. The infusion of levity into the land that the Losers forgot brings us back to Earth when it all gets to be a little too surreal. In the moment, it relieves the pressure, but in the end, it strings out the suspense, pulling the thread of Pennywise’s undoing through the long labyrinth of work the film does. The tonal shift comes as something of a surprise, given the sorrow and grief that haunts every frame of IT, but the humor proves a winning addition in the absence of much horror.
All of which is to say, you may come for the clown, but you’ll stay for the sweet reunion at a Chinese restaurant and the cathartic trips into the fuzzy edges of a happily forgotten past that nonetheless reveals some moments worth remembering.
IT Chapter Two
Director: Andy Muschietti
Writer: Gary Dauberman (screenplay), Stephen King (novel)
Runtime: 2h 49min
Release Date: September 6, 2019
Image Credit: Brooke Palmer/ © 2019 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC.
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