After two long years, the 2017 retelling of Stephen King’s best-selling novel “It” finally has its sequel and conclusion. As a big fan of the franchise, I hadn’t been this excited for a film, let alone a horror film, in a very long time and, overall, I thought the film was unfortunately unsatisfying.
Before watching the film, I will warn you that there are quite a few heavy and upsetting topics shown in graphic detail. There is a very disturbing portrayal of a hate crime against a gay couple, with slurs used against them in the beginning. There are also scenes that depict both domestic violence and suicide.
A lot of my frustration with “It: Chapter Two” is its length. The movie is a whopping two hours and 40 minutes long, and somehow I wanted it to be much longer. Watching the movie feels like watching an abridged version of the story, and, knowing the original novel’s plot, they took major shortcuts and didn’t fully explain everything. It’s a good thing because there wasn’t any dull or dragging moments, but this movie also isn’t for new viewers.
The film’s plot follows the same characters as the first film, 27 years later, as they come back to their hometown of Derry to defeat It a second, and hopefully last, time. As you might imagine, the storyline is a little too similar to the first one. In the novel, this similarity makes sense because the story bounces back and forth between the Losers’ Club as children and as adults, allowing the reader to see the parallels. Since this version of the story was split into its individual storylines, the parallels become repetitive as opposed to clever.
As a horror film, “It: Chapter Two” flops. Maybe it’s because I rewatched the 2017 film right before going to the theaters or maybe clowns just don’t scare me, but I struggle to even call this film horror. Part of what made the 2017 film so interesting was that, by the end of the film, the viewer wasn’t scared of It anymore. The film put the viewer in the perspective of the kids, as they weren’t scared of him either. However, this kind of thing works retroactively in the case of “It: Chapter Two.” By the second movie, the viewer had seen Pennywise so much that the terror of him being shrouded in mystery was completely lost. I found myself laughing at a good portion of the scares because they were so ridiculous, and Pennywise just wasn’t terrifying to me anymore. There were a lot of fantastic horrific imagery, but it got lost without a good amount of suspense to back it up. However, I think if “It: Chapter Two” was advertised more as a character drama, it works much better. The scares are really just a highlight to the film as opposed to the driving force.
The acting in this film was one of its biggest highlights. With an all-star cast including James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Jessica Chastain and Isaiah Mustafa, the characters from the first film were transformed remarkably well into the second. In particular, although it was his first time acting in a horror flick, Hader was mesmerizing to watch. His emotions were palpable through the big screen, and the audience was laughing, crying or screaming along with him.
The film also explores the concept of Hader’s character Richie’s sexuality, which wasn’t in the original book. It was one of the few changes that I absolutely adored. It gave depth to his character and added so much extra context and emotion to the ending.
So the big question: Did I like the movie? And the answer isn’t as clear-cut as I wish it was. I loved the book. I thought the 1990 miniseries was okay, and the 2017 film was pretty good, but this 2019 version, although entertaining in its own way, disappointed me. It didn’t follow up the first film as well as I wanted it to, and it definitely didn’t amaze me as much as the novel did. I would’ve loved a line-by-line adaptation of the novel but with 1,138 pages of content, that was impossible.
In the end, there’s so little “It” content out there that I can see myself rewatching “It: Chapter Two” and enjoying it. Despite its flaws, I left the theater with tears in my eyes. It managed to reignite my love for the Losers’ Club, and for that, I would still recommend to anyone who loved the book but hated when it ended.