'It Chapter Two' review: Floating with the clown

A still from the film. Credit: Twitter/@ITMovieOfficial

Director: Andy Muschietti

Cast: James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Skarsgård

Score: 3.5/5

The story of It Chapter Two is no surprise for readers of the book – 27 years after It's defeat, Pennywise the demonic child-eating clown has reared its head again and The Losers are beckoned back to Derry, Maine, by Mike Hanlon to finish the creature once and for all.

It Chapter Two faces a number of challenges due to the massive success of the first film. Not only did it have to be at least as good as its predecessor, but it also had to ensure a satisfactory end to the events it was building up to; and by most regards, it hit the jackpot.

Let’s get this out of the way first: It Chapter Two is not scary. At least, not necessarily as much as the first one was. It plays more like a regular creature feature with elements of horror, comedy and suspense.

The film is, however, unforgivingly brutal. If you thought Georgie getting his arm ripped off was harsh, you’re in for a nasty surprise with this one. In the first five minutes, the film establishes itself as the gory film to beat as Pennywise literally tears into a gay man and begins a merciless feeding spree. Pennywise is angry and it shows in the mannerism and speech – while in the first film, the creature could barely pass for human, here It can hold complete conversations, almost like a hunter adapting to prey.

Like the first film, It Chapter Two is heavily character- and set piece-driven with a few key differences: While in the first film, all seven Losers had a certain part to play, this film is heavily centred on Beverly Marsh, Bill Denbrough and Ben Hanscom’s budding love triangle and gives Richie Tozier a slightly different route romantically than he had in the book. The entire gang, driven by fear of Pennywise, and a premonition from Beverly, are repeatedly pushed into a corner by Pennywise during their hunt for certain items as they hesitatingly march towards their final confrontation.

How the film differs from the first one, though, is in the material it presents. Since the first film laid most of the groundwork for the duology, Chapter Two is content with the leg space it gets to expand its mythology and fill in some gaps for The Losers by way of flashbacks. The film gets into the origins of Pennywise, adds a bit of background for The Losers pre- and post-Pennywise and generally expands the scope of the first film by adding fan-favourite moments from the book like the Jade of the Orient and the Ritual of Chüd.

As far as adapting Stephen King novels go, the It duology easily takes the top spot. As a whole, It is a complete package filled with all the proper beats from the book. By itself, though, It Chapter Two falls just slightly short of the first one, but it is nonetheless a very respectable entry.

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