“It: Chapter 2” is an essay on fear, much like its predecessor. However, it takes the scares in a whole new direction.
The film, directed by Andy Muschietti, is based on the second half of the popular book by Stephen King with the same name. It stars an ensemble cast of Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, and Andy Bean stepping into adult versions of the Losers’ Club from the first film. The film takes place 27 years after the Losers’ Club supposedly kills the dreaded clown Pennywise, played by Bill Skarsgard, as kids and vulnerable people around the haunting town of Derry, Maine begin to disappear.
It should be noted immediately that the movie is very graphic in its depiction of fear and violence. There are many instances of graphic violence against minorities and women and they are not for the faint of heart. Some might say they are gratuitous or part of “PC culture” to include, but actually the film captures the graphic nature that King is known for as an author. King wants us to feel uncomfortable by these scenes and the filmmakers gave a perfect visual avenue for use to walk down on eggshells.
The film is also heavily stylized, much like the movie before it. Director Muschietti has a very clear vision for how he portrays fear in every second of the film. In the first film, many of the adults the kids encountered had very clown-like features. In this film, those same kids are now adults, so the filmmakers have taken the “clown-ness” and portrayed that on the environment. The town of Derry is a sad, sad town. There are many deaths in the history of the town, but for some reason, the people of Derry don’t seem to be very conscious of their town’s dark history. There is an air over the town stopping people from realizing that they need to yell “Fire!” and get out of town. That is, much like a murderous clown, crazy.
The film does have its shortcomings, however. The pacing of the film is incredibly slow at times, primarily because they split the giant book that is “It” into two different movies. The pacing issues would probably have been solved by combining the two into one much larger film, but I don’t think anyone would want to sit through a five-hour movie. In addition to these pacing issues, there are many moments that are a little too “jokey” for the more horrifying nature of the film. There is a scene where the gang is running away from Pennywise and they encounter a small dog, and thinking it a trick, don’t engage it initially. They quickly think it not and become scared when Pennywise’s charade is revealed. The whole scene doesn’t have a lot going for it and it feels like it’s just there to pad the runtime.
Ultimately, “It: Chapter 2” is a worthy successor but the trend of sequels remains: the first one was better. “It: Chapter 2” receives an A-minus rating.