“This meeting of the Losers Club has officially begun.” – Richie Tozier
The sequel to the 2017 box office success ‘It‘ starts exactly where it left off. Almost no explanatory flashbacks to the situations the Losers Club got themselves into, fighting the terrifying Pennywise. Only difference in ‘It Chapter Two‘ – they’re all grown up and ready to end It, once and for all.
27 years ago, a fear-indulging creature tried to feast on every teenager alive in small town Derry. A group of friends, defeated the being (disguised as a clown) and moved on with their lives. Or so we think.. After a brutal killing one evening, Mike (Isaiah Mustafa) decides to call every single one of his old friends, begging them to come back to their hometown. Barely remembering the events of almost three decades ago, they catch up over dinner and drinks and memories start to flow back. Sooner than they’d expect, It strikes again and the returning members of the Losers Club feel betrayed by Mike, luring them in knowing well enough they’d have to fight their common enemy once again. Mike did a whole lot of research to figure out It’s origin and also knows how to defeat this being. But our group of friends has to stick together to successfully finish this fight against evil.
Andy Muschietti is back to direct the second chapter to the well known Stephen King novel. It seems like he grew up, just like the Losers Club did. The jokes matured, as did certain subjects within the story (domestic abuse, sexual orientation..). Another impressive note is Benjamin Wallfisch‘s score. Simply eerie and unsettling. While I thought his score for ‘It’ was a bit bland and boring to listen to without the visuals, he decides to go bigger and bolder in this film and it really pays off.
The movie has a lot of inventive sequences, which sometimes will blow your mind in how well constructed they are. A few of them are re-used from the previous chapter, but in a different and more terrifying way. The production design is next level perfect. While I thought ‘It’ relied heavier on jump scares, Chapter Two uses them less. There are still quite a few of them that actually work, but they don’t seem as forced as the ones that came before. Whenever a new CGI-monster comes along, you simply ask yourself who designed these creatures. Some are straight up nightmare fuel.
For fans of the younger cast, don’t worry, they are still present through the use of flashbacks. But the focus is all on the adult versions this time. The true standout is by far Bill Hader, who plays grown up Richie – an alcoholic stand up comedian with a secret he can’t seem to express to the outside world. His acting and comedic timing breaks some of the horror-tension, but never in a way it becomes annoying. He’s genuinely enjoyable to watch and has an emotional arc to feel for. Other surprisingly great performances come from James Ransone (grown up Eddie) and Jessica Chastain (adult Beverly). James McAvoy (adult Bill) isn’t bad, but it seems like he’s playing one of his personalities from Split/Glass, with his accent being a bit too thick and an over-the-top lisp. While Mustafa, Jay Ryan (Ben) and Andy Bean (Stanley) just didn’t get enough screen time to be rememberable. Bill Skarsgard is back as Pennywise, and while I thought he was brilliant in ‘It’, I kept wondering how much CGI they used to put him in this film. It became quite distracting, especially in the second half.
It Chapter Two is the better half of the story, which explores the very interesting origin of this evolving menacing force and shows the devastating consequences of its wrongdoings towards a group of children. It not only shows that it’s okay to be a loser or someone that doesn’t entirely fit in to today’s society, it makes us think of what we are capable of by just believing in ourselves. A frightening yet touching story of forgotten friendship and lost opportunities.