IT: Chapter 2 follows 27 years after the events of the first film. The Losers club is all grown up and IT has returned to the town of Derry. Can they stop the malevolent being once and for all?
IT: Chapter 2 Review
Similar to Avengers Infinity War/Endgame, it's difficult to analyze IT Chapters 1 and 2 without each other. They are designed to be a single, fluid storyline with only a mild "ending" to the first film to give the audience some level of satisfaction of completion, but inevitably the goal is to see the true end to Thanos/Pennywise in the latter installment. So I believe the films should inherently be reviewed as a whole, at least to some degree.
And as a whole, I consider the IT films to be a major success for horror. The two films proved that a cohesive "epic" of sorts in the horror genre is possible, even with source material as complex and bizarre as Stephen King works tend to be. The horror itself is well constructed, with a highly entertaining balance of jump scares, atmosphere, and humor that is surprisingly more on-point than most modern comedies.
The cast certainly didn't hurt the cause. I've already praised the performances of the kids in my review of Chapter 1, and the adults deserve similar accolades here. The whole cast did this incredible job of carrying the mannerisms and idiosyncrasies of the children counterparts with few awkward moments of those mannerisms making the adults seem like children themselves. Despite a cast including James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, and Bill Hader, the highlight was surprisingly James Ransone as the grown-up hypochondriac Eddie Kaspbrak. His comedic timing in some otherwise horrific scenes, both alone and with Bill Hader's Richie, were easily the best parts of a film that otherwise fed off its dramatic and terrifying turns.
If I did have one complaint, I feel there were a few significant lulls, particularly within the first hour. The near-3 hour runtime was most often felt during moments of trying to give each character their due, as Stephen King does in his massive IT epic. It's difficult to get all the characters back to Derry while trying to retain some semblance of character progression without starting to drain the audience, especially when Pennywise has been relatively absent to this point. In fact, I'd be curious to see exactly how much screentime he actually has in the first 2 hours.
But the last 45 minutes amps up enough to compensate for the few drags with some true monstrous mayhem. The awkward creative choices made in Chapter 2 of the original adaptation, particularly in the climax, were translated much better in this film. There is a difficulty found in properly communicating the weight and power of the imaginations of the Losers club without it seeming silly or disconnected from the audience, but I believe it was achieved much more admirably in this adaptation. At the very least you get some fun Pennywise action.
Overall, the two films as a whole were just so good. It was encouraging to see a packed theater for a mainstream horror film that boasted substance, style, drama, and comedy within the horror umbrella. The IT films proved that horror can be just as great a tool for entertainment as any other genre, and I hope it leads to similar films, maybe even a couple of equally crafted King adaptations.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 9/10 Horror Quality: 8/10 Film Quality: 8/10