It Chapter Two
It Chapter Two
Rating4.5 / 5
James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader
5 September 2019
Pennywise is back – and he ain’t clownin’ around. It Chapter Two is bigger, scarier and funnier than the first.
Clocking in at a staggering 1138 pages, Stephen King’s gargantuan 1986 novel It was always going to be tough for any filmmaker to successfully adapt. Not to mention it’s chock full of weird shit – from teen orgies to magical god turtles (seriously, look it up).
However, Argentine director Andy Muschietti has done exactly that, with It Chapter Two bringing this horror duology to a stirring, spooky and seriously strange end. Much like King’s novel, this second film is long, unwieldy and sometimes a slog – but what it lacks in structure it more than makes up for in thrills and spills.
It Chapter Two picks up 27 years after the events of the first film. The Losers Club have gone their separate ways, with all but one (Isaiah Mustafa’s Mike) leaving Derry and any memory of Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) behind in the process. But when children start to disappear from Derry’s streets once again, Mike holds each member of the club to their vow of returning home to put an end to the evil clown once and for all.
James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain and Bill Hader star as older versions of Bill, Beverley and Richie respectively. The whole cast wonderfully captures the unique ticks and quirks of their younger selves, but none more so than James Ransone’s hopeless hypochondriac Eddie.
The film’s overarching theme is one of repressed trauma and facing long-forgotten fears – struggling screenwriter Bill can’t find closure; Beverley has bounced from an abusive father to an abusive husband; and Richie is using stand-up comedy to hide a secret. The film takes its time to set the table and flesh out its ensemble, before splitting them up so they can each revisit and do battle with their nightmarish past. The character-driven narrative depends on its actors to lean in and bear the emotional burden, which they absolutely do – particularly Chastain and Hader.
Of course, It Chapter Two wouldn’t work without someone preying on these personal demons, and Skarsgard’s portrayal of Pennywise is once again phenomenal. A seamless blend of performance and visual effects, Skarsgard gleefully goes all in on Pennywise’s head-spinning insanity.
In the first film, Pennywise preyed on childhood fears; now, he has years of repressed trauma and disenchantment to exploit. The result is something angrier, more primal and upsetting than before.
It Chapter Two is terrifyingly entertaining as well as just plain terrifying. Given the choice to ‘go hard or go home’, Muschietti has definitely opted for the former. At nearly three hours, this isn’t some 90-minute penny dreadful – it’s a sprawling cosmic journey that strikes a great balance between spookiness and King’s trademark strangeness. On occasion it struggles to stay afloat under the weight of its own ambition, but by and large this is a triumphant finale that sticks the landing.
Images courtesy of Roadshow Films