Film Review: It Chapter 2; Sequel to latest It adaptation disappoints fans with excessive runtime, lame scares

Pennywise the Dancing Clown (pictured above)—portrayed by Bill Skarsgård—is the demon that has been terrorizing the small town of Derry, Maine since the first It movie. The Losers’ Club, initially a group of children, are now adults who must take down Pennywise before they are killed off one by one (courtesy of Richard G Smith Jr).

No film genre has been more impacted by the fad of remakes than horror. Since the mid-2000s, horror movies have been the subject of numerous revivals and remakes that received mixed levels of success. 

Andy Muschietti’s initial directorial foray into Stephen King’s writing, a remake of It¸ was a pleasant surprise because it improved upon the original 1990 miniseries in almost every way. It’s critical and box office success has given Muschietti some big clown shoes to fill for his surprise hit’s sequel. 

It: Chapter Two takes place 27 years after the events of the first film. At this point, most of the Losers’ Club had moved out of their hometown of Derry, Maine and have forgotten about the horrible tragedies that took place there. After a slew of missing children cases plague the small town, Mike Hanlon—portrayed by Isaiah Mustufa—calls upon his former childhood friends to return to Derry to rediscover past events and kill the titular monster once and for all. 

The film hinges on the terrific performances given by the adult versions of the Losers’ Club. With a talented cast headed by heavy hitters like Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy and Bill Hader, It: Chapter Two manages to build on the relationships between the characters established in the first film. The cast does a terrific job of making the Losers’ Club friendship feel authentic and relatable in the way that the friends interact. 

The younger actors from the first movie reprise their roles in flashbacks throughout the film. Many of these flashbacks are newly recorded scenes rather than scenes lifted straight from the first film, lending insight into time gaps present in the original film. Like in the first movie, these scenes are convincing and enjoyable to watch. 

The emphasis on the relationship between the Losers works because of the script’s focus on dramatic and humorous scenes. Dialogue from the characters is incredibly funny at times and serves to create space between action or horror-intensive scenes. The dramatic writing also does a great job of making the audience care about characters and the ways they feel toward one another.

While the writing triumphs in characterization, it comes at the high cost of sacrificing how scary the film is. Although the scary sequences in the film are competently done, nothing stands out as different or unique from the first film. A greater emphasis on longer shots of CGI creatures don’t look the best and can often hurt the audience’s immersion. The scary set pieces of the film are somewhat effective but can appear cheesy. 

Another glaring issue with this film is the near three-hour runtime. The film’s pacing suffers tremendously from the number of subplots and backstories it tries to tell at once. The movie’s entire first act is more exposition than anything else, merely trying to get all the characters back into Derry as quickly as possible. While the second and third acts manage to tighten their scope, there are still plenty of scenes that serve little purpose and could be easily removed.

It’s also worth noting that fans curious about the creature’s backstory will be left rather disappointed. Although Bill Skarsgård plays It terrifically, the script takes a significant amount of time explaining the creature’s origins. The problem with this addition is that, by the end of the film, not enough is explained to allow the audience to truly understand what It is. This makes the exposition scenes merely filler and does little to answer the questions they pose.

It: Chapter Two is an entertaining return to the world of Derry and the characters we love. The acting and dialogue between the film’s protagonists is incredibly fun to watch and leads to some great scary scenes with the cast. Despite these successes, the film’s poor pacing and overall lack of scares leave more to be desired for fans of the first film. While certainly worth a watch, It: Chapter Two probably won’t exceed any expectations.