After a two year wait, the sequel to “IT” has finally floated into theaters.
“IT Chapter Two” takes viewers to the small town of Derry, Maine, where the Losers’ Club — who have grown up during Pennywise’s 27-year-long slumber — are called back to confront the unimaginable evil which tormented their childhood in the 1980s. “IT Chapter Two” is a mesmerizing and twisted circus of love, loss, comedy and terror.
The original cast returns in a series of flashbacks, while the adult counterparts of the kids are brought to life by a star-studded cast. Of all the adult Losers, the two who absolutely capture the likeness and physicality of their young counterparts are Bill Hader’s Richie and James Ransone’s Eddie.
Hader brings Finn Wolfhard’s iconic Trashmouth Richie to life as an adult with a layered and hilarious portrayal, complete with witty one-liners and sarcasm to spice up the dialogue. Hader displays an emotionally dense characterization of Richie as he switches from comedic relief to a true vessel of the pain and emotions the main characters are feeling.
The rest of the Losers’ Club is exceptionally cast, and Bill Skarsgård is a nightmarish ball of evil as Pennywise the Clown, with a performance that will surely transcend decades of horror movie history. The unsettling contortions of his mouth and eyes emphasize the uncanniness of a harlequin. His vocal performance is menacing and guttural, adding extra weight to his emotional jabs as he taunts characters. He’s a force that looms over the film, often teasing characters in the background of shots — almost creating the feeling that Pennywise is taunting not only the characters but the audience.
Despite the enjoyable cast emotional thrill ride, “IT Chapter Two” certainly suffers a bit under the weight of its flaws. On a few too many occasions, awkwardly placed comedic moments undermine the tension and stakes of scenes. When comedic relief is repeatedly used during scary moments, the tense moments seem silly rather than menacing.
One of the original film’s main antagonists, bully Henry Bowers, returns as an adult after breaking out of an insane asylum. Unfortunately, his scenes are downright pointless and are often brushed off with a joke or quick violent action. His presence against the Losers is never really felt and it is disappointing to see such a prominent evil force from the first film swept aside.
Story wise, “IT Chapter Two” really shines. Director Andy Muschietti opens up his own twisted toy box of terror and conjures a wide array of terrifying creatures, including a triple-mouthed witch, a decomposing memorial statue and, of course, Pennywise the Clown. These entities torment the Losers throughout childhood and adulthood, shrouding the small town of Derry, Maine, in an endless blanket of evil. The film explores the power of memory and the strong bonds formed as children, as well as how a murderous clown can often pale in comparison to the true horrors of the world. Pennywise plays on the character’s insecurities, anxieties and trauma in a way that forces them to confront their inner secrets. The Losers’ Club must bond together to rekindle the magic of their childhood and put evil in its place. Additionally, the film makes strides to incorporate LGBTQ elements into its narrative, which is refreshingly inclusive for a blockbuster.
“IT Chapter Two” is certainly not without its flaws, but its extraordinarily twisted horror set pieces, heartfelt thematic elements and emotional investment from the cast solidifies the film as the definitive horror event of 2019.