There’s a running gag in It: Chapter 2 where Bill is a successful novelist who writes really good stories but can’t cook up a good ending to them. This is probably a jab at the book’s author, Stephen King. It’s supposed to be just a joke but, ironically, it kind of summarizes my thoughts for both Chapter 1 and 2 if you stick them both together. Chapter 1 sets up the story in a great way but, once you get to the latter part of the complete tale, all the excitement peters out unceremoniously.
I’m getting ahead of myself, though, as I can’t really say that It: Chapter 2 is a bad movie. I would rather classify it to be a disappointing one. I still enjoyed it overall but not for the right reasons at times. That’s pretty much the summary of my review. There are a bit more nuance to all of this and I am going to delve much deeper into this but, if you’re worried that I’ll be revealing stuff about the plot and what not, worry not! This will be a totally SPOILER FREE review of It: Chapter 2.
It: Chapter 2 happens 27 years after the first movie. Pennywise is back terrorizing the citizens of Derry, Maine and Mike, the last remaining member of the Losers in the town, calls the rest of the gang back to fulfill their blood pact. This time, the Losers plan to take down It for good.
I adored It: Chapter 1 when it came out. While I didn’t find it all that scary, that movie did a great job of conveying the Losers’ fear. You would think this is a flaw but that’s actually one of the reasons that made the movie for me. I wasn’t the target of the scares; the Losers were. You got to see what they were afraid off and this made me feel more for the characters and added a lot to each of their personalities and quirks. Besides that, everything was tightly written and the pacing was spot on. It didn’t overstay its welcome even though it was slightly over 2 hours long. I still recommend It: Chapter 1 to this day as it’s a good move and tells a great story.
So, with It: Chapter 2, I couldn’t help but expect more of the same but something felt off throughout the entire film and I couldn’t really put my finger on it for around half of the movie’s runtime. By the 2-hour mark, I figured it out. It: Chapter 2 is, simply put, poorly paced and is packed with a lot of unnecessary stuff. The film is almost 3-hours long and you can definitely feel it. You can feel the length especially at the middle portion because nothing really happens and most of the bits here feel like unnecessary padding. Maybe these scenes were in the book but, when you’re adapting a book that is more than a 1,000 pages thick and splitting it into two movies, you have to still trim it down into the essential parts.
It’s hard to explain without giving spoilers but the movie bounces back and forth between the present time and the past and, while that’s a very common storytelling trick, it feels repetitive and overused here. The flashback scenes have no weight to them because, although you didn’t see them in the first movie, they come off more like quick fixes and deus ex machina moments for the present time.
Once again, It: Chapter 2 isn’t all that scary but, this time, it does feel like they’re trying to scare the audience more than the Losers. It doesn’t work out all that well, unfortunately. In fact, they feel more like jumpscares rather than actual making you feel terrified. You can tell that the jumpscare is coming because of all the musical cues.
Adding to the problem, each of the “scary” scenes are really over-the-top and hard to take seriously. Come to think of it, there are a lot of moments where they desperately try to make the audience feel like something is a “big moment.” The music swells and a choir starts wailing. It was fine the first few moments but they kept on dipping into that well so often it felt ridiculous! I actually got rather annoyed with it, to be honest.
You would think that Pennywise would help out in the scares department but you’d be wrong. In the first film, I actually felt It to be a rather menacing character. In It: Chapter 2, he isn’t. I hate to say this but there were a couple of times when I laughed out loud with his antics! I’m being serious here! I made an audible laugh when I know Pennywise was supposed to be scaring me! I can’t really fault Bill Skarsgard, the man behind the makeup, as you can tell he’s acting his heart out. I will put the blame squarely on the director since he’s the one that gave him the direction for Bill Skarsgard’s rather hilarious performance.
I will say, however, that I was invested in Bill Skarsgard’s acting here, despite it coming off as unintentionally funny at times. He’s not the only one that does a great performance, though. Most of the adult Losers are extremely good and you can tell they’re doing their best here. Bill Hader as the adult Richie, however, is a definite standout. Most of the time, he’s the comic relief but there are a more than a couple of standout dramatic moments and Bill Hader rises to the occasion here. The only guy who’s acting I didn’t like was Isaiah Mustafa, who plays Mike as an adult. His performance doesn’t derail the movie but it does come off as rather wooden. Maybe it’s because everyone just feels a level above him, acting wise, and it just stands out more when he’s this close to these fantastic performances.
Despite the wonderful performances, it’s not enough to cover It: Chapter 2’s biggest flaw: the story. I can let a movie pass if it has bad pacing and intentional laughs but an uninteresting story is where I draw the line. The Loser’s adventure here isn’t particularly good. In fact, it’s downright insulting at how basic the entire plot is. It: Chapter 2 feels like a tale that I’ve seen in other movies before it. Now, the book itself is a classic and its plot may have been imitated, making it the original and not the copy. Maybe that’s the case but they should’ve put a more inventive twist to it to make it, at the least, feel original. The ending in particular comes off like one you’d see in a horror TV show geared for kids, complete with a moral on how to beat bullies. It’s almost insulting!
I realize that I’m making it sound like I didn’t enjoy watching It: Chapter 2. On the contrary, I had a good time watching it but for the wrong reasons. I liked Pennywise but not because I was scared but because he was funny. Bill Hader’s timing with the jokes was on point. In fact, I will say that, overall, It: Chapter 2 feels more like a comedy than a horror film. I know it’s supposed to be the latter but I can’t help it! I laughed a good bit while watching the film, which led me to my enjoyment.
Even so, it’s hard to actually recommend It: Chapter 2 because the story is bland, the entire middle part is mind-numbingly nonsensical and the ending makes it feel like was ripped off from a children’s storybook. Like I said at the start, the movie ends in a whimper rather than a bang.
Have you seen It: Chapter 2? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!