By John Hanlon
In his novel It, originally published in 1986, author Stephen King focused on a group of great friends — nicknamed the Loser’s Club — at two distinct points in their lives. As children, the Loser’s Club faced off against Pennywise the Clown, a demonic creature that attacked and killed neighborhood children. Twenty-seven years later, members of the Loser’s Club returned to their hometown to face the creature once again.
In 2017, director Andy Muschietti told the first half of that story. That movie focused on the children and their encounters with the psychotic clown. In 2019, Muschietti finished the story with It: Chapter 2, a sequel that focuses on the older versions of the characters while flashing back to their younger years.
In this sequel, Pennywise returns to Derry to terrorize the community once again. Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa), the only member of the Loser’s Club who remained in town, recruits his former friends for a new battle against the clown.
Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Andy Bean co-star as the grown-up versions of the Loser’s Club while Bill Skarsgård returns as Pennywise.
Muschietti packs a lot into this lengthy film, which clocks in at two hours and forty-nine minutes. In addition to sequences featuring the clown taunting the grown characters, there are additional sequences showing the kids gets attacked. At some points, the story grows a bit repetitive with each character going off by themselves only to face an encounter the killer clown. In the first chapter, the scares felt more organic while in this one, they feel more formulaic as the characters are separated and then attacked.
Fortunately though, the script gives the fully-grown characters the opportunity to grow and reconnect. Much of the first hour focuses on re-introducing these characters and showing how they’ve changed — or failed to change — over the years. The relationships continue to be at the forefront of the story here and it’s great to see the older characters relate to each other in a way that feels natural, considering their past.
In a strong ensemble cast, it’s comedic actor Bill Hader and James Ransone who truly stand out as Richie Tozier and Eddie Kaspbrak.
Although much of the story focuses on the main characters as they confront Pennywise, there’s a secondary storyline about the return of Henry Bowers (Teach Grant), who bullied the Loser’s Club years earlier. Henry only appears in a few scenes but that character never fully jells in with the rest of the story. Although he’s featured in a few memorable sequences (including a bathroom confrontation with Eddie), he never adds much to the story and seemingly only serves as a distraction from the bigger showdowns.
Despite its flaws, It: Chapter Two serves as a worthy successor to the 2017 feature. It doesn’t showcase the concept of lost innocence in the same way that It did (especially in its depiction of Bill Denbrough struggling with the loss of his brother) but it grounds itself by focusing foremost on its grown characters.
It’s not as scary as chapter one but few things are as scary as the frights experienced while growing up.
Blu-Ray Special Features: The Blu-Ray contains some great special features including a two-part documentary about the Summers of It. The first one focuses on chapter one while the second one focuses on the new film.
Both contain great behind-the-scenes footage. From Skarsgård’s performance as Pennywise without the make-up (which is quite something) to behind-the-scenes footage of a blood-soaked Chapter Two scene set in a bathroom stall, there’s a lot of great material in these two documentaries. Other special features include a brief featurette about Pennywise the Clown.