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Review: Pennywise Kills Again in the Tedious ‘It Chapter Two’

September 6, 2019Sara Clements

A clown's menacing laughter is heard. Red balloons float en masse above. Almost three decades since the Losers' Club tried and failed to kill It, the twenty-seven-year cycle begins anew. The introduction to Andy Muschietti's It Chapter Two doesn't start out strong; it's uncomfortably brutal and forces inclusivity. But, if anything, it shows that Derry is still a town full of bullies.

Then enters Pennywise, eyes glowing in the darkness, reaching out his hand to kill. The Losers are lucky to have gotten out of Derry — all except Mike (Isaiah Mustafa) who knows that a pact is a pact. We are quickly re-introduced to each Loser, now older, most of them living in wealth. Ben (Jay Ryan) got hot and is working as an architect; Richie (Bill Hader) has taken his sense of humor onto the comedic stage; Bill (James McAvoy) writes horror novels and films; Eddie (James Ransone), still a hypochondriac, works in risk management; and Beverly (Jessica Chastain) co-owns a successful company but married a controlling and abusive man, much like her father. As for Stanley (Andy Bean) — well, it's best to leave it at that.

The Losers who left Derry behind may be living in monetary wealth, but they have lost wealth of other kinds, such as their friendship and any memory of their childhood. This is a group dealing with the collective trauma of their youth and how it affects them to this day. And while their initial reunion is a joyous one, that celebration doesn't last. As the story re-enters familiar territory in its second half, the film separates the group in order for them to rediscover their lost memories of that summer twenty-seven years ago. New things are learnt about each character, and new scenes fill in the gaps in the first chapter, as triggers return them to adolescence.

Each of these triggers is as frightening as the next, and they're all executed in immensely creative ways, as Pennywise's illusions produce imagery more disturbing than what was seen in the first chapter. Bill Skarsgård once again turns in one of the most impressive character transformations of all time; but unlike our introduction to the monster, this time around he can't escape being just a clown. And while the adult cast have a great dynamic with one another — with Hader's performance the most deserving of praise — the charm, banter and camaraderie of the kids (Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Finn Wolfhard, Jaeden Martell, Jack Dylan Grazer, Sophia Lillis and Wyatt Oleff) is often missed whenever they aren't on-screen.

That said, the result is still as visually impressive as its predecessor, but at the same time too flashy and blinding in its climax to properly savor. And while it's nice to be back in Derry and re-explore its past, some elements should have been left there (namely, the Beverly-Bill-Ben love triangle). All in all, though, It Chapter Two still packs the right amount of heart, and its emotionally cathartic ending almost makes its drawn-out execution worth it.

It Chapter Two releases September 6th, 2019 from Warner Bros. Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of R for disturbing violent content and bloody images throughout, pervasive language, and some crude sexual material. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 49 min.

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