‘It Chapter 2’ Review: The Horror Epic Concludes With A Bang!

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‘It Chapter 2’ Review: The Horror Epic Concludes With A Bang!

Logan Gaertner, Contributor

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Twenty-seven years have passed. Our beloved Losers are now adults, living their lives away from their childhood trauma until they receive that dreaded phone call.

And it all comes floating back. Our characters realize that that trauma and those flaws never truly left them.

“Sometimes we are what we wish we could forget.”

This thematic throughline was handled perfectly. Each and every one of our characters have a number of great moments to shine and to further emphasize how much, or how very little, their lives have changed since that summer in ‘89. Derry certainly hasn’t changed much since they were children; the grotesque adults that have survived the horrors of this town for all of these years are still there. Everything has changed, but also nothing has changed. The whole ordeal made for a very effective experience, and in many forms, was a wonderful way to wrap up this half of the story.

The adult cast is fantastic, and each one of the actors completely loses themselves behind their respective characters. Their chemistry is on point, and it is easy to believe that these were the same characters we all fell in love with from Chapter One. Bill Skarsgard continues to prove that Pennywise is of the same calibre as Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers when discussing horror icons. He is excellent, and is clearly having a lot of fun invoking fear out of not only the characters on screen, but also those of us sitting in the audience. 

Teach Grant does a solid job as an adult Henry Bowers although his involvement didn’t feel completely necessary, other than to emphasize the fact that these characters are confronting their childhood trauma. He is tied directly to that; otherwise, he maybe could have been removed from the movie entirely. There was not a single weak link when it came to the performances.

I was worried going into this that I wasn’t going to be nearly as invested because this portion of the story is less focused on the coming of age charm and instead  focused on these characters all grown up. That was certainly the case for the 1990 miniseries (which has aged so poorly it’s almost laughably bad), but here it was a pleasant surprise how enrapturing the adult portions were. The kids are not completely absent, though, and their inclusion through flashbacks really enhanced the story and circumstances for the adult counterparts (although some of the de-aging on Richie was distracting. It was not Tarkin from levels of distracting, but it was something I noticed). Also, this half of the story, when it comes to the source material, gets weird, and this movie doesn’t shy away from that at all. It is very unapologetic in how crazy and odd the situation and the threat gets, and in many instances just has a ton of fun with it.

The horror sequences are very exciting and inventive in this. Some were more effective than others and a couple may have been a bit predictable and have less stakes, but otherwise these setpieces were a real treat. There were a number of times where I tensed up or felt claustrophobic, and there is a lot of chilling moments where figures are out of focus in the background waiting for the right moment to strike; needless to say, there are images in my head now that probably aren’t going to leave me alone anytime soon.

Not only did the movie get under my skin, it made me laugh quite a bit. There was some jokes that did not land as much as others, but that is typically expected from any movie, and none of the jokes felt like they were at the expense of these characters (cough, Avengers Endgame, cough). It all felt pretty nicely balanced.

Andy Muschietti really knows what he is doing when it comes to directing these actors, and bringing Stephen King’s crazy, unbridled vision to life; the third act is the biggest embodiment of that statement. This film was not afraid to get strange, and as a result, it ends up being one of the more interesting mainstream horror movies in the last few years. Muschietti also brings an interesting visual presence to the movie; early on in particular had some very striking imagery. The scene transitions were awesome, too, and they helped make the story feel as expansive and dense as it truly was.

After gushing over a number of aspects, it’s only fair to discuss what does not quite work. The biggest issue to be found is how repetitive that second act gets after a while. The setpieces, for the most part, are effective and are advancing the story for each character in some way, shape or form, but after awhile it felt like watching the same scene over and over. When the third act comes around though, this problem became significantly less prominent. 

Like Henry Bowers’s involvement, a couple scenes could have been cut entirely. The scene in the house on Neibolt street had the cute reference to John Carpenter’s The Thing and some creepy visuals, but otherwise didn’t serve much of a narrative purpose other than to be spooky. In removing some of these sequences, it would have potentially made the movie a bit tighter. It is already pushing a near-3-hour runtime. 

A handful of technical elements felt a bit jarring. There was an odd song inclusion that was questionable in what it was trying to convey, and some of the CGI could have been cleaned up. 

As a whole, it does falter here and there, making 2017’s It the superior movie, but this was still a great time. The thematic core was strong, the storytelling approach was ambitious, the characters are wonderful, and the horror of it all makes going outside alone at night a bit more nerve wracking.

Largely, It Chapter 2 satisfies.

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