September 08, 2019
This carnivalesque sequel throws in shocks aplenty and homages to horror classics, but it lacks depth and precision
It Chapter Two review –  funhouse theatrics with little emotional punch
In the wake of the record-breaking success of 2017’s It (dubbed “horror’s highest-grossing hit”, albeit unadjusted for inflation), this follow-up brings the Stephen King story to an end, not with a whimper but with several spectacular bangs. More epic in both scope and length than its predecessor (the running time outstrips even Tarantino’s ultra-indulgent Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Andy Muschietti’s good-looking sequel has visual style to spare as it pits its now-adult antiheroes against an ever-expanding creepshow of shrieking scary monsters and crawly super creeps. From giant, drooling clowns to grotesque insect apparitions and spiderlike shape-shifters, It Chapter Two doesn’t skimp on the funhouse theatrics, even riffing on a quotable moment from John Carpenter’s The Thing, which remains a monstrous benchmark for mind-bending 80s horror. Yet in stretching its canvas so far, the film also bursts the balloon-like charm of its predecessor, throwing more at the audience while ultimately landing less of an engaging emotional punch.
Twenty-seven years after the Goonies-inflected adventures of the first film, the former members of the Losers’ Club from Derry, Maine (now played by a new, grownup cast), have gone their separate ways, all but forgetting the oath they swore about their ghoulish childhood nemesis: “If it ever comes back, we’ll come back too.” Each has their own life, although the past still haunts them. Bill (James McAvoy) is a popular writer who has a problem with endings; Beverly (Jessica Chastain) has swapped an abusive father for an equally toxic husband; Ben (Jay Ryan) is still lovelorn despite remodelling himself as a ripped success story; Eddie (James Ransone) has retreated into risk assessment; Richie (Bill Hader) has funnelled his insecurities into standup comedy; and Stanley (Andy Bean) lives in terror of his childhood nightmare returning. Only Mike (Isaiah Mustafa) has stayed in Derry, awaiting an echo of former horrors that will call his comrades to “come home, come home”.
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