Note: This is a spoiler-free It Chapter Two movie review
The reason every sane person is terrified of clowns has made his return. And this version of Pennywise’s adventures won’t make you sleep any better at night.
It Chapter Two delivers on exactly what everyone expects. A strong cast, unrelenting jumpy terror, and a quality scary movie to kick off the unofficial start of Halloween’s season.
What Horror Fans Will Love
The first thing that sticks out about It Chapter Two is the big suspense that leads to the even bigger “pop-out” scares. It has the unique ability to make you jump with fright, even when you know the fright is imminently approaching.
If you’re a jumpy person, it’s 170 minutes straight of either jumping out of your seat and hiding your eyes or anticipating the next time you’ll be doing that. If you’re a tough guy or gal, there is still some twisted and unexpected horror that will have the effect you’re looking for.
It Chapter Two will also be a delight for fans of Pennywise because he certainly doesn’t hold back in the movie. Bill Skarsgård is back with a vengeance as the sadistic clown who terrorizes Derry, Maine.
Pennywise is very “in your face” and not sneaking around at all, much like the classic ’80s thrasher villain. It takes specific skill to still be terrifying when you’re not jumping out while people are looking at you on screen for an extended period of time. Skarsgård has a way of making the character relentlessly creepy. From the moment you see him you can’t wait for him to be off the screen. It’s a unique acting prowess that he carries well throughout the five hours that make up It chapters one and two.
It’s also exactly what classic Pennywise fans will want from the character.
The Losers Club
Let’s talk about the cast that isn’t playing Pennywise because it’s a big and recognizable one.
Bill Hader puts on the best performance of the bunch in It Chapter Two, mainly because he is cast perfectly as Richie. The part comedy, part serious, then more part comedy performance is Hader’s wheelhouse right now thanks to his award-worthy work in Barry. That carries over seamlessly in this movie. We desperately need comedic relief between all the horror and Hader perfectly provides it.
He also has great back-and-forth chemistry with James Ransone, who plays Eddie. Eddie can’t take a joke, and Richie can’t stop making them. Together they’re fighting each other as much as they’re fighting a town-ruining clown, but in a fun way.
Hader’s performance would still be great and necessary without Ransone, but the two together takes them both up a notch.
The Ballad Of Bev And Bill
Bet you didn’t think it would take this long to get to Jessica Chastain did you? The most accomplished actor of the bunch is also cast well, at least in part because she looks exactly like the kid version of Beverly from Chapter One.
Beyond Chastain’s resemblance to Sophia Lillis, she also shows off her acting chops in Chapter Two. It’s clear in all her scenes she’s raising the acting level of not just herself but all the actors in the shot.
Also, unexpectedly, she’s a very good horror screamer. It doesn’t happen too often but when Chastain is playing scared she just lets it rip. Helps make it a safe space that lets you (and me) do the same thing.
James McAvoy is a bit of an enigma with his performance as group leader Bill. Coming off full-blown, standout performances in both Split and Glass, the bar for McAvoy is set to incredible (probably unfair) heights. He doesn’t reach those, but he still checks in with a quality performance.
No one would be able to volley back and forth between studdering and non-studdering adult Bill quite like McAvoy, which is in a way vital to the role. He also presents himself as a believable leader of the Losers Club. It’s not his best performance, but James McAvoy at 75% is still better than most at 100%.
A Chapter Two Long
Despite all the good, there is one thing clear about It Chapter Two. The movie is too long.
Turning 1,100 pages into a two-part movie is a difficult task, I get it. But combine Chapter One with this 2 hour, 50 minute affair and you’ve got five hours of movie to watch.
To the filmmakers’ credit most of this chapter is entertaining and it never really feels long until the end. Unfortunately, it’s during the penultimate battle that you can feel people getting restless and looking for the end. That feeling leads the scene to miss the mark just a bit.
Should I Go See It Chapter Two?
As if it isn’t obvious, you know what to expect with It Chapter Two. For that reason, you pretty much already know if you’re going to watch this movie or not.
That said, this horror show is worth catching in a theater if you’re going to see it. It’s one of those things that’s elevated by a movie theater crowd with screams and jumps and out-loud cursing. Plus then you’re not alone and looking around every corner for a murderous clown. They call that a win-win.
(Featured Image courtesy of Warner Bros.)