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It: Chapter Two

It: Chapter 2

There is a lot to unpack with the second chapter of IT. Clocking in at just under 3 hours, this horror "epic" tries to cover a lot of ground, live up to insane expectations and stay true to a classic horror novel. For the most part the film delivers the goods, but it trips along the way to get to the finish line.

It's been 27 years since the Losers Club defeated the demonic clown known as Pennywise and they've all tried to move on with their lives as far away from Derry as possible. Mike decides to stay behind and research as much as he can about Pennywise in the event he should return. With the death of a young man at a carnival and a cryptic message written in blood, Mike soon discovers that Pennywise is indeed back and he must round up the losers once again in order to defeat Pennywise once and for all.

Since Mike is the only one who stays behind, he is the only one to retain his memories of Pennywise. Everyone else has seem to forgotten about him and their childhood in general. They might have moved away from Derry, but they can't seem to escape the damage their traumatic childhood as inflicted on them. Both Bev and Eddie have married people that represent their parental figures; Bev has an abusive husband while Eddie has an overweight and overprotective wife. This is further cemented by the fact that Molly Atkinson plays both his mother and his wife in the film. Bill becomes a famous author, but has trouble coming up with endings that aren't terrible (something King himself as been criticized for). Ben becomes a wealthy architect and loses a ton of weight, but doesn't seem to have a happy life. Finally Richie uses his sarcastic comedic tone in life to become a stand-up comic, but we soon find out that he doesn't write his own material, so he feels like he's living a lie.

Chapter 2 boasts a stellar cast and one that is pitch perfect casting for each character. Not only do the adult actors look exactly like their younger counter-parts, but they bring a sense of familiarity to the screen. They are believable and sympathetic and you want things to turn out well for them despite knowing that things most likely won't. With each character returning to Derry, they start to get their memories back. In order to defeat Pennywise, they must remember everything and we are treated to scene by scene "scares" that become a little redundant. It's almost as if Muschietti decided to throw everything that could be scary at the screen and hopes something sticks. He relies a little too much on CGI, which lessens the scare. He does lift a scene directly from Carpenter's The Thing and it works here more than I thought it would.

One of the things that made the first film a success was the chemistry between the kids and that chemistry transitions well for the cast now. McAvoy nails the stutter that resurfaces once he returns to Derry and Hader himself is the big stand out, delivering comedy and fear on a perfect balance. There is a moment of sheer terror involving Hader that is played perfectly which involves the Deadlights. While the film doesn't out right say that Richie is gay, there are a lot of clues to this, which further cements that he's currently living a lie when his comedy bits involve being married to a woman. We get a flashback scene with Richie at an arcade and he is scared off by being called numerous gay slurs by the town bully Henry Bowers. He runs away ashamed and sits at a bench in front of a giant statue of Paul Bunyan, the American version of a man's man. It then comes alive and attacks him and when we flashback to the present where Pennywise sits on his shoulder telling Richie he knows his secret. This adds bit of depth to someone who might be seen as simple comedic relief.

Another character that finds himself with more material is Mike. In the novel and the original mini series he is injured by Bowers and can't partake in the final showdown. That doesn't happen here and he gets the chance to try his theory of how to defeat Pennywise. With this change in his character I can't help but feel that Henry Bowers becomes rather useless. He doesn't have Pennywise talking in his ear manipulating him to be a tangible threat to the Losers. He had a purpose in the previous works but only eats up the running time here. For a film clocking in at 2 hours and 50 minutes, his story could have been completely cut and nothing would have been lost from the story. Easily saving the filmmakers 20 minutes making the film a bit tighter.

It: Chapter 2 feels bigger, but that doesn't make it better or scarier. With kids taking a backseat here, the fear does as well. We are not as scared as we were from Pennywise, but the one scene that does elicit the charm from the first film involves Pennywise luring a child under some bleachers. Simple and effective scene with two people talking. The more that Muschietti wants to throw weird on the screen, the less scary it gets.