How do you make a film that’s half an adaptation of one of the greatest horror novels ever written, and a sequel to the highest-grossing horror movie of all time? Andy Muschetti’s answer seems to be: by not making a horror movie.
That’s not to say that It Chapter Two isn’t scary. There are all sorts of CGI horrors, and Bill Skarsgard’s mercurial performance as Pennywise is as terrifying as ever, but this isn’t the story of It; it’s the story of the Losers. Chapter One saw them coming of age in small-town Maine, and now they’ve returned in Chapter Two to face their demons (the literal and the metaphorical) and put them to rest.
It Chapter One was so successful because it understood that the horrors of the real world can be even scarier than the supernatural, and Chapter Two similarly opens on a brutal (and sadly all too prevalent) hate crime. But by the end, there is also a glimmer of hope; a sense that we might just survive in the darkness if we all stick together.
Watching these childhood friends reunited as adults is an absolute joy, and every single one is perfectly cast (special mention must go to Bill Hader, who brings the bulk of the laughs and gives a career-best performance as Richie). In fact, it’s almost a shame when the film rips us away from them to explain Pennywise and how to kill it – though credit where it’s due, the film isn’t afraid to explore some of the truly bizarre material in Stephen King’s original novel.
Though it sometimes feels less focused than its predecessor, It Chapter Two is still heartfelt and horrifying in equal measure. If Muschetti makes good on his promise to combine both chapters into a single movie, it might just be the best Stephen King adaptation ever put to film.
CAST: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Bill Skarsgård
DIRECTOR: Andy Muschetti
WRITERS: Gary Dauberman (screenplay), Stephen King (novel)
SYNOPSIS: Twenty-seven years after their first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back.