A weaker, overdrawn sequel that doesn’t quite know where to take the characters to—but it can be frightening at times, though also emotionally shallow.
Dir. Andy Muschietti
2019 | USA | Horror/Drama | 169 mins | 2.39:1 | English
M18 (passed clean) for disturbing violent content and bloody images throughout, pervasive language, and some crude sexual material
Cast: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Bill Skarsgard
Plot: 27 years after their first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back.
Distributor: Warner Bros
Subject Matter: Moderate
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Mainstream
(Reviewed in theatres)
If Seven Samurai (1954) had been a modern horror movie directed by a Hollywood studio filmmaker, it might have looked something like It Chapter 2. Instead of marauding bandits, a band of ‘strangers’ has to protect a town from a deranged clown.
But Kurosawa knew about how to structure plot and action to build momentum (plus he didn’t have the benefit of an earlier film to develop his characters), yet despite his masterwork running far longer than It Chapter 2’s already lengthy runtime, it was a tight and purposeful affair.
It’s almost blasphemous to bring in Kurosawa’s film into this conversation, but my point concerns pacing, structure and characterisation, all of which It Chapter 2 fails to succeed in. It is an overdrawn sequel to what was a decent first movie—it spends way too much time going through the motions of furthering each character’s back story and fears (cue tick-the-checkbox style jump scares), and the outcome isn’t exactly gratifying.
“For 27 years, I dreamt of you. I craved you… I’ve missed you!”
The cast, including Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy, playing the adult gang are not bad, but there is not much chemistry going on. (In fact, I’m of the view that the child actors were so much better and interesting.)
There are some genuinely frightening moments, including one with a girl conversing with Pennywise below a spectator stand, but as the movie stutters to what is a pretty long third act, there is little in the way of emotions, even when the entire film reeks of unearned nostalgia for traumatised childhoods.