By Jason Delgado
The It movie remake from 2017 earned a boatload of money, becoming the highest grossing horror movie of all-time, so what did the producers decide to do for the sequel? Go big or go home. They got an all-star cast, upped the budget with big CGI effects, and made Chapter 2 really long, at a runtime of two hours and forty-nine minutes. If it worked for Endgame, it could work for a horror flick, right?
It Chapter 2 takes place twenty-seven years after the kids in the “Losers Club” first dealt with the sadistic clown Pennywise. The kids are all grown up now, and are called back to the small town of Derry to face It, along with their own childhood inner demons.
Do you remember when you were a kid, and you would spend the night for the first time at a friend’s house? The night could go either way. It started with the fun and games of some Sega or Nintendo (because that’s what they had back in my day), but eventually the awkwardness of not really knowing each other well enough or getting along would settle in, and you ended up wishing you were at home, instead of in a sleeping bag on a stranger’s floor, next to a kid who took the video game trash talk too far for your new friendship.
That scenario is how I view the length and pacing of It Chapter 2. For the first third of the film, the movie felt like it was moving at a brisk pace, much like Avengers: Endgame. After that, my mind would wander at times to what I had to do later that night, a sure sign of boredom and slow pacing. They could have easily chopped off a half hour to forty-five minutes, and it would have been a more entertaining film for it, in my opinion.
That’s not to say that It 2 is a bad movie. The cast is excellent, especially the versatile Bill Hader of Saturday Night Live and Barry fame. It’s in the HBO show Barry that Hader first displayed his wonderful talent: being able to switch back and forth between comedy and drama at the drop of a dime. Hader shines at doing just that in this film, playing a stand-up comedian who always has funny one-liners at his disposal, but is also the dramatic heart of it all when the going gets tough. Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy redeem themselves from the disaster that was Dark Phoenix with their usual fine acting work. Bill Skarsgard is once again a force to be reckoned with as Pennywise the clown.
Skarsgard is extremely creepy as It, but so often in this film the producers went with the big FX scenes, instead of relying on Skarsgard’s terrifying smile and delivery. The scariest scenes by far in this movie are the ones without effects, where it’s just Pennywise dealing with children: pure evil versus the innocence of a child, with It displaying a Satan-like quality of trying to lure a little girl into a false sense of security with him. It’s the kind of scene that makes you want to shout at the screen to tell her to run away. Sadly, those kinds of scenes were few and far between.
This film felt more like a big-budget action movie rather than a horror movie, because the grand special effects that dominated It 2 just weren’t scary. Do you find an evil Paul Bunyan type statue scary? Yeah, me neither. Especially when the CGI is of the obvious variety, taking the viewer out of any kind of frightening reality. The opening scene of the film took place at a carnival at night, and had 99 red balloons (FYI – exact count unknown, I just like that song) by a riverbed as an unsettling warning that Pennywise was near. I would have preferred more scary effects like that, instead of giant, unreal looking creatures causing mayhem, like a Michael Bay Transformers flick.
It 2 tried to have a nightmare quality to it (Nightmare on Elm Street 5 was prominently displayed on a theater marquee in the movie as a homage), but instead was an adventure that started out fun, but ended up losing some of its luster with the long runtime. A running gag in It 2 was that an author/screenwriter character in the film was made fun of for not being able to write a good ending. It was a playful nod to the criticism book author Stephen King has dealt with over the years. It Chapter 2 ended well enough, it was the parts in between that dragged on a bit too much.
I give It Chapter 2 three out of five hot sauce packets. Pennywise started out on fire, but cooled down once he realized that it was a marathon instead of a sprint.