Arts movie review

The power of fear

Pennywise returns to strike at the heart of the Losers’ Club

9088 it chapter two
The Losers' Club returns 27 years later in 'IT Chapter Two.'
Brooke Palmer/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.​

IT Chapter Two
Directed by Andrés Muschietti
Screenplay by Gary Dauberman
Starring Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan
Rated R, Now Playing

Conquering our fears is a hard thing to do, especially if it’s a fear that follows you from childhood. IT Chapter Two addresses this particular fear in the Losers’ Club’s 27 year return to the small town of Derry in response to an abrupt recurrence of missing people’s cases. 

One of the most notable things in IT (2017) was its focus on the kids and their development throughout the story as they faced Pennywise’s scares. IT Chapter Two follows this trend as we follow the now grown up Losers’ Club, still the same but also slightly different as a result of their years in adulthood spent away from the ominous Derry. Once the band gets back together, it is revealed that they all don’t quite remember what happened in their hometown aside from Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), who never left. However, as soon as the scares start mounting, each Loser’s will is tested when trying to defeat the monster Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård). 

One of the most striking progressions in character is Eddie’s (James Ransone). With an ever-present worried gaze, Eddie’s germaphobic tendencies follow him from his childhood, manifesting into a risk-averse personality. Combined with his fear, Eddie initially reacts to the situation with a flight response. He wants to get out of their predicament as soon as possible to avoid the risk of dying, even if it means breaking the Losers’ Club’s original oath to rid Derry of Pennywise should it ever resurface. However, with the company of his longtime friends and their belief in him, Eddie does eventually come around with a shaky resolve that becomes steadier the longer the movie progresses. IT Chapter Two follows each Loser in their fear conquering in similarly satisfactory arcs.

In terms of horror, the movie has a lot of it, but it should also be noted that it has a greater amount of gore than the 2017 IT. Whether or not it is due to Pennywise’s more frequent appearances or the fact that the scares must ramp up to be able to convincingly terrorize adults, this movie is definitely not for the squeamish. There were a lot of scenes that were just so grotesque and skin-crawling that even I could not stare straight at the screen as the events occurred. There are also plenty of moments where the tension is done just right. As the Losers each explore Derry to find their key to ridding the town of Pennywise, audience members are constantly on the edge of their seat (or rather bracing themselves against their seat) as they anticipate Pennywise’s next horrific tactic to attack the Losers. 

On the flip side, there are some bits that are overdone. You can only see Pennywise’s face so many times before you start to become desensitized to his appearance. The CGI put into some of the other monsters is also rather obvious, and it also takes away from their scare factor. Often times, the monsters provide an initial shock and then a cringeworthy sight rather than an actual scare.

At the end of the day, IT Chapter Two is a movie that addresses the loss of childhood innocence and what we as adults can do to prevent others from growing up too soon. With a whopping two hour and 49 minute runtime, the movie definitely takes its time setting up the characters so that we can be better invested in each character’s story, and the movie’s plot is enriched all the better for it. If you watched IT and really enjoyed it, I would highly recommend you watch the sequel and see how the Losers’ Club is doing 27 years later.