Twenty-seven years after the events of 2017’s It, demonic clown Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) returns to terrorise the town of Derry.
While the rest of The Losers’ Club have moved away, Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) stayed, researching the clown’s origins and it falls to him to round up the estranged gang. Keeping the promise they made back in 1989, most of the now grown-up group including Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy), Beverly Marsh (Jessica Chastain), Ben Hanscom (Jay Ryan), Richie Tozier (Bill Hader) and Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransome) return to defeat Pennywise once more.
Mike devises a plan with his accumulated knowledge, but despite this, Chapter Two has very little structure. Crowbarring-in flashbacks of yet more somewhat creepy goings-on with the previous film’s younger cast. Retreading territory does get old quick, especially with a runtime that’s just shy of three hours.
Chapter Two appears confused, wanting to showcase heavy subject matter such as the manifestation of hatred and lingering childhood trauma, while also attempting to be a comedy. While horror and comedy often go hand in hand, whether offering respite or generating nervous laughter as a tense scene ramps up (or just all-out Evil Dead 2 excellence). Unfortunately, with gigantic CGI monsters with googly eyes and an awkwardly placed snippet of a pop song, the film fails to be truly scary or funny.
Overall, Chapter Two isn’t a fitting conclusion, trudging its way through various tonal shifts just to arrive at the same finale we saw in 1990’s flawed but sincere It miniseries. Defeating an otherworldly, ancient evil entity shouldn’t be all fun and games. Displaying another lack of restraint, rather than a nod to The Thing, a scene is torn right out of John Carpenter’s classic. While director Andy Muschietti’s first instalment did rely heavily on jump scares, I appreciated its simplicity after enduring his disappointing sequel.
Similar to It, Chapter Two opens in a brutal fashion and the present-day portions of the film offer some decent horror set-pieces. A meal that turns sour and an eerie bleachers slaying are amongst very few highlights. There may be just enough of these scattered stand-alone peaks to keep audiences engaged. However, Chapter Two overall, much like part two of Tommy Lee Wallace’s miniseries, struggles to stay afloat and aptly conclude Stephen King’s colossal book, with an adult cast that isn’t as watchable as their younger counterparts. McAvoy does the majority of the heavy lifting here, but a lack of chemistry between McAvoy, Chastain and Ryan results in a muddled love angle falling flat.
As a fan of Tim Curry’s ghastly portrayal of Pennywise, Bill Skarsgård won me over with his disturbingly child-like take back in 2017. However, once more he’s underutilised and used as a prop for a plethora of jump scares rather than the more subtle, physiological terror Curry’s menace inflicted.
As Chapter Two’s tagline suggests, It ends, eventually …