The Losers Club vowed to return to Derry, Maine—the small American town that remains unsettling and bleak—27 years ago. A vow most of them forgot. But in It: Chapter Two, director Andy Muschietti certainly hasn’t, delivering yet again a full-throttle ample shock and awe, as the time comes to face the villainous evil clown Pennywise for the last time.
Kicking off the fall season, Chapter Two is undoubtedly one of year’s most major summer blockbuster hits, proving itself to not only follow through as a immensely satisfying second-half from its 2017 mega-hit, but allowing itself to dethrone Stephen King’s other prolific horror séances with its thrilling adventurous presence.
Emerging from its periodic hibernation, the demonic clown showers the film with his gut-wrenching killing palette, emerging once again as the menacing human embodiment of fear. With a taste of children up his ragged cuffed sleeves, he seems his appetite longs for the now-grown Losers Club, insisting this through a mass of unnerving giggles and sharp breaths: “I’ve dreamt of you, I craved you, I missed you!” Returning to their childhood home, Bill (James McAvoy), Richie (Bill Hader), Beverly (Jessica Chastain), Eddie (James Ransone), Ben (Jay Ryan), and Mike (Isaiah Mustafa) assemble together, reuniting and experiencing long forgotten memories and friendships that had been buried. The adult cast does a exceptional job reviving into the kids from the first chapter, displaying the film’s excellent casting choices and fantastic view on who their young counterparts have grown up to be.
Andy Muschietti directed the first chapter of Stephen King’s beloved novel back in 2017, and it was enthralling. Bringing together a widely acclaimed young ensemble, it’s crucial to say that the casting of their grown-up selves are some of the most impressive choices in recent memory, and some of the best in cinema. It’s evidently clear that the new cast of Losers has embraced and taken great care in imitating and crafting the performances inspired by the kids and cherished tale. Hader is hilarious, and McAvoy’s big eyes are pools of emotion, that some might say their performances are Oscar-worthy—it’s that good.
From here and there, flashback sequences piece together a past we didn’t get to see in the first film—bringing the characters young arcs to shine on screen for the second time. Using seamless de-ageing special affects, audience members would be forgiven for thinking it’s just unused footage from the first film, as it works to a touch. Remaining the same main quality and well-functioning sense of creative energy throughout, It: Chapter Two neither breaks or slows down the three-hour running time, but briskly moves along the cast of characters with their suppressed traumatic experiences. These fragmented scenes also include fun moments the kids had, from listening to music down in the underground club, and equally tender ones that showed specific characters relationships and behavior that pieced them to where they stood 27 years later. And let’s not forget Stanley’s genius idea of wearing shower caps to protect spiders from getting into their hair—a tip I think we all picked up while watching.
Bill Skarsgård, once again, returns as the deeply creepy presence that is Pennywise—a terrifying yet hilarious stuffed nightmare that manifests itself in the most strangest and vivid ways. With a performance that’s as physical as it is verbal, Skarsgård manages to keep the film alive with his excessive teases, and growling hunger of excite—stretching his legs a little more than the first film, both literally and figuratively. As Chapter Two suggests throughout its much leaner and stronger excruciating suspense, Pennywise isn’t just hunting for dinner anymore—he wants revenge. Taunting the Losers with his over-the-top presence, even when they’re wide awake in broad daylight, the town feels drenched with blood and thirst as he breathes, “Come home, come home, come home.” The elaborate power that he tends to access is definitely a fright that inflicts fear upon his victims, but what challenges him differently than what we saw in the climax of the first film is that the Derry kids he longed for are gone. Put in their place are the older counterparts, 27 years later, engulfed with the repressed scarred memories that nevertheless shaped them as adults. Returning to defeat him for good wasn’t a choice, but in fact a oath. The more hungry and excitable he gets, teasing each of the gang as they relive their nightmares in new ways, the bigger they become to suppressing “It.”
Multiple “wow” moments permeate the landscape of It: Chapter Two like the many ominous, red balloons that float across the Derry sky. Andy Muschietti takes big swings with his craft, displaying both an elegance and an understanding of the material he’s adapting it from. Stretching to nearly three hours, the deliriously ghoulish film keeps you hooked from its great chemistry to its monster effects, but at times it does sprawl into a repetitive comprise of frights: whether it be the loud enhanced music cuts, the slurping zombies or the spider-related terrors. Nonetheless, the spectacle and imagination I applaud, and who knows, maybe you’ll laugh out loud in hopes of alleviating some of heavy alarm on screen.
Overall, the film is a fitting and almost perfect companion piece to the first chapter. Here, Muschietti manages to capture the magic of friendships, intertwining their seemingly idyllic small town that immerses the old pals to revive their old rhythms and relationships. Perhaps the best scene that shows that in the whole film is the one which they all reconnect for the first time over a lively and drunken dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Spinning the Lazy Susan, downing shots of liquor, and teasing each other mercilessly to no end—as if no time has passed at all.
They’re the same as what they were 27 years ago, even when the memories of trauma they shared spike hazy at best. Complimented immensely with Benjamin Wallfisch’s memorable score, I can’t help but further the sense of adventure and intrigue that Chapter Two made me feel. Every cast member on screen gives their absolute all, and it’s just as well when the whole film feels like it was made with a bursting heart and great love for the Losers of Derry. Back then, the Loser’s Club was a vicarious roller-coaster, but for now, as the scars faded slowly from the rests of their palms, the meeting of The Losers Club has officially come to a truly unforgettable end.
IT: Chapter Two is now in theaters worldwide.