In Theaters: It Chapter Two

It Chapter Two (2019)
Directed By: Andrés Muschietti
Written By: Gary Dauberman

It Chapter One was one of my favorite horror movies of 2017, which may have set the bar for Chapter Two a bit too high. I have been looking forward to this release since seeing the first one and that was probably too much to expect this movie to live up to. Whatever the reason, nothing changes the fact that It Chapter Two is an underwhelming film.

Chapter Two is big on ideas and ambition but doesn’t manage to stick the landing. Instead of coming together as a whole, these ideas feel like a bunch of scenes and set pieces strung together. No matter how well they work separately there is no escaping the scatterbrained feeling of the overall film.

When I saw Chapter One it was in a packed theater full of jumps and screams in all the right spots. This screening was not quite full and sat mostly silent throughout except for the occasional laughter at things that weren’t supposed to be funny. I would rarely use the audience reaction as a basis for film criticism but it seemed to be particularly telling in this case. Chapter Two has a fair number of jump scares, the silence of the audience tells me that they aren’t effective. The laughter during scenes that are supposed to be frightening tells me that the effects come across as more silly than scary. And the rather large group of people that walked out of the theater about halfway through, never to return, tells me that the film isn’t engaging.

Much was has been made of the casting for this movie. They did an amazing job of finding actors who resemble their younger counterparts and they assembled an impressive cast in the process. It seems that too much time was spent on the physical resemblance to the younger cast and not enough on finding the best actor for the role, however. Jessica Chastain is a talented actress and she does look like an adult version of Sophia Lillis, but as talented as she is I never once bought her as Beverly Marsh. She looks like an adult Beverly but it never feels like you’re watching the same character. This is true of everyone of the adult actors, they look the part and they are talented individuals but something doesn’t feel right. The only exception to this is Bill Hader as the grown up Richie. He eases into the role perfectly and easily steals this movie.

It Chapter Two had an uphill battle due to elevated expectations but that wasn’t the only hurdle for it to overcome. Watching children fight Pennywise is inherently creepy, watching adults doing the same thing just comes across as silly. I think this accounts for a lot of the laughter during moments that were supposed to be scary. It’s much more difficult to buy the idea of a man in his forties being frightened by a red balloon. In fact the sequences that work the best in Chapter Two the couple that feature children, most of the others got no reaction or brought about laughs.

This isn’t a terrible film, it just falls way short of it’s predecessor. It starts out pretty strong but only goes downhill from there and there is a long way to go given its runtime of 2 hours and 50 minutes. That’s a lot of average to sit through. If you enjoyed Chapter One I would recommend seeing this movie to finish the story. I would also recommend doing so with tempered expectations.

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