Movie review: 'IT Chapter Two' ends with confounding climax

Fred Hawson

Posted at Sep 15 2019 09:27 AM

Bill Skargaard returns as Pennywise in 'IT Chapter Two.' Handout

"It" (2017) was a topnotch horror film, one of the best films based on a Stephen King novel. That film recounted the harrowing experiences of a gang of Derry, Maine teenagers called "The Losers Club" terrorized by the evil carnivorous clown Pennywise. At the end of that film, they pledged with each other that if ever the evil of Pennywise came back to Derry, they will reunite and fight It together again.

This sequel happened 27 years after the events of the first film. Mike (Isaiah Mustafa) remained in Derry to keep watch for Pennywise's return. When such a case came up, he immediately called in his friends, now all working faraway, to come home as they promised. While Stanley (Andy Bean) opted for another way out, everyone else came back all with fuzzy memories about what happened in their past. Mike instructed each one of them to get an artifact from their past in order to use in an old Native American ritual to finish It off once and for all. 

The actors playing the Losers Club as adults carried on the look and behavior of their respective child characters, and this was the best aspect of the film. This was so good when scenes alternated between the adult and child characters, so you can sense the continuity best. 

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James McAvoy was still the stuttering leader Bill (Jaeden Martell) was. Jessica Chastain maintained the mystery that was Beverly (Sophia Lillis). Bill Hader was still the bespectacled smart aleck Richie (Finn Wolfhard) was. James Ransone was still the nervous and excitable Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer). Hunky Jay Ryan looked nothing like overweight Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), but we've seen big transformations like this in our own reunions. 

The scenes where the Losers Club were all together as a group were so much better than those scenes where each character was facing various incarnations of It individually. This middle section where they were gathering their tokens from the past each had their own sense of nostalgia, jump scares, ugly monsters and all, but ultimately these scenes did not really contribute much to the main story. In fact, all those scenes could be edited out and the ending would not be affected. Even the scenes involving psychopath Henry Bowers (Teach Grant) could be edited out without affecting the story.

Bill Skargaard was still so creepy good and sinister as Pennywise. However, the CGI of that overlong climax was too over-the-top that it actually reduced the sense of horror for me. I actually cringed at that "major" moment when the Losers were gaining the upper hand against the ultimate Pennywise spider monster. 

It might have been the way it was written in the book, but it felt corny as the big finale of an epic tale. I wonder if the repeated digs against Bill Denbrough (who was a best-selling mystery novelist who was notorious for his bad endings) was an inside joke about the rather lame ending of this two-episode story. 

"It Chapter 1" was much better than this "Chapter 2"

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."