An Honest Review Of 'IT: Chapter Two'

You'll either laugh out loud or be deeply unsettled—there is no in-between.
PHOTO: Warner Bros. Pictures

The Long Plot, Sans Spoilers

Andy Muschietti (Mama, IT: Chapter One) returns to direct the sequel to the hit cinematic adaptation one of Stephen King's most famous horror novels. Following the events of the first film, Pennywise retreats underground to hibernate. However, he's still able to feed off the growing hatred and animosity that spreads throughout Derry, Maine. After 27 years, IT is awoken by a terrible act of violence and emerges from a deep slumber to begin his reign of terror once again.

Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) gets wind of this news, as he is the only member of the Losers Club to remain in Derry. Now a librarian, he's spent years poring over books, hell-bent on figuring out a way to defeat Pennywise. Keeping true to their childhood blood pact where they vowed to return if the clown ever shows up again, Mike proceeds to contact the other Losers.

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All grown up, the other members are too busy with their own lives to even recall the promise they once made all those years ago.

Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy) is now a best-selling horror novelist and screenwriter, Beverly Marsh (Jessica Chastain) owns a women's fashion line, Richie Tozier (Bill Hader) is a stand-up comedian, Ben Hanscom (Jay Ryan) owns an architecture firm, Stanley Uris (Andy Bean) is an accountant, and Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransone) is a senior risk assessor.

But once the Losers Club reunite in their hometown, they start remembering everything in vivid detail. Turns out that they're still haunted by childhood trauma as adults, which manifests in their many questionable life decisions. Now that they're in a weakened state and burdened with the responsibilities of adulthood, will the Losers Club be able to finally defeat the source of their terror and save the town?

The Short, Honest Plot

An annoying alien clown forces messy adults to deal with their emotional baggage once and for all. (Thanks, Pennywise!)

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The Actors And Where You Last Saw Them

Jessica Chastain as Beverly Marsh

The actress played an antagonist in the recent X-Men film, Dark Phoenix. She's also best remembered for her leading role in another Muschietti film, Mama.

 

James McAvoy as Bill Denbrough

You may remember him best as Professor X in the X-Men films, including the recent Dark Phoenix.

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Bill Hader as Richie Tozier

The Saturday Night Live alum is currently the star of the HBO series Barry and voiced King Leonard in Angry Birds 2.

 

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Isaiah Mustafa as Mike Hanlon

Admit it, you know him best as that strapping man on a horse in the viral Old Spice commercials.

 

Jay Ryan as Ben Hanscom

He was the beast (but looked far from it) in CW's Beauty and the Beast series.

 

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James Ransone as Eddie Kaspbrak

This actor is no stranger to horror films as he was The Deputy in both Sinister and Sinister 2 films.

 

Andy Bean as Stanley Uris

He played the lead Alec Holland in the DC online series, Swamp Thing.

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Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise The Dancing Clown

You may recognize him out of clown costume in the action film Atomic Blonde.

 

Sophia Lillis as Young Beverly Marsh

She played the main sleuth in the mystery film Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase.

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Jaeden Martell as Young Bill Denbrough

He had a recurring role as the son of Michael Sheen's character, Dr. William Masters, in the series Masters of Sex.

 

Wyatt Oleff as Young Stanley Uris

He played young Peter Quill (yep, Star-Lord himself) in Guardians of the Galaxy.

 

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Jack Dylan Grazer as Young Eddie Kaspbrak

This young actor played bestie Freddy Freeman in Shazam!

 

Finn Wolfhard as Young Ritchie Tozier

He's best known as Mike Wheeler from Stranger Things.

 

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Chosen Jacobs as Young Mike Hanlon

He had a recurring gig as Will Grover, the son of Captain Lou Grover, in Hawaii Five-0.

 

Jeremy Ray Taylor as Young Ben Hanscom

He was in another spooky but more kid-friendly film called, Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween.

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Did You Know?

1. Puberty can be a crazy and unpredictable time so many things can change among the young cast members within the span of two years. (See: Finn Wolfhard's growth spurt.) The sequel employed digital de-aging techniques to maintain the appearance of the OG Losers Club.

2. Even before casting for It: Chapter Two began, Sophia Lillis already had Jessica Chastain in mind to portray Bev as an adult.

3. Finn Wolfhard's dream casting was fulfilled when Bill Hader came onboard. Bill even joked about Finn's influence in getting him the role on The Tonight Show, "This Finn kid is so powerful, like, 'Bring him to me. Bring me the man who played Stefon! I want him to play me in the movie.'"

4. Actress Molly Atkinson reprises her role as Eddie's overbearing mother Sonia Kaspbrak while also playing his wife Myra. (Talk about a major Freudian situation!)

5. Trigger warning: The movie will include scenes from the novel depicting a hate crime and domestic abuse. This illustrates how even in hibernation, Pennywise's negative influence has spread like a virus throughout the town of Derry.

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What My Friend Thinks:

"IT: Chapter Two is the stuff of nightmares. The film is a much more faithful adaptation of the book and a worthy follow-up to the first film. It's thrilling, unexpectedly hilarious, and yet heartbreaking at the same time. Amidst the horror going on around them and the real-life terrors of adulthood, the Losers Club will make you feel nostalgic about the friends you had growing up and helps unpack important life lessons on the true meaning of bravery." Nadine Flores

What I Think:

My love for Stephen King's works led me to power through an old school TV miniseries. It was quite dragging but featured an outstanding performance by Tim Curry as the monster clown. I would give a special mention to some of the kids (Jonathan Brandis and Seth Green) and adults (John Ritter and Annette O'Toole) who stood out but everything else was forgettable.

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The recent films felt more like an ensemble performance with everyone having their own spotlight moment so that it didn't devolve into a literal clown show. IT: Chapter Two is more than a sequel—it's two parts of a whole. This is a necessary follow-up to complete the storyline, providing both the characters and the audience some cathartic closure after Chapter One haunted our waking dreams.

First off, I'd like to commend the casting for the adult Losers Club, especially the eerily accurate resemblance of James Ransone and Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie Kaspbrak, who practically look like father and son. (Even their horrified expressions mirror each other!) Jessica Chastain and Andy Bean also look similar to their younger counterparts. The adult cast as a whole did such an amazing job capturing the manner, speech, nuances, and quirks of the kids that it felt like a smooth transition even when the film constantly switched from flashbacks to the present day.

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As Pennywise the clown, Bill Skarsgård was doing the most as per usual. The spotlight-stealing performances, though, came from James Ransone and Bill Hader with the Eddie and Richie friendship becoming one of my fave things from the film. I've always believed that comedians make the best dramatic actors and Bill did not disappoint.

The horror in IT: Chapter Two comes in two extremes: It's either wildly comical that you will laugh out loud at the ludicrousness of the situation or deeply unsettling that it will keep you up at night with haunting thoughts (far more effective than any cup of coffee)—there is no in-between. The practical effects used in the film proved more terrifying than whatever CG conjure up on the screen.

It's not your traditional scarefest, but a more real and upsetting fear of how our buried childhood trauma can suddenly resurface and make us regress into the scared kids we truly are on the inside. As I watch the Losers Club struggle with their inner demons, it made me realize how we all have a tendency of playing pretend as adults until we hopefully mature into one. The film illustrates how unresolved conflict can subconsciously affect our later decisions in life and keep us in a vicious cycle of self-harm.

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Yes, this film about a killer clown has a motivational message behind it. The atrocities and utter horror found in Derry are unfortunately not an unusual sight in this day and age where certain figures are promoting a culture of hate. Pennywise can probably go on vacation because humanity at the moment is doing a bang-up job without any help from it. But that's why the movie is a good reminder that we need to face that figure head-on (the IRL versions of Pennywise) and fight it together. Even with emotional baggage weighing you down, ultimately you have to face your fears or it will resurface and manifest in different ways.

Although it was personally an enjoyable two hours and forty minutes, there were certain aspects of the film that could have been condensed for brevity because the horror genre requires the audience watching with rapt attention. The need to include everything in the film just weighs down what could have been an effective narrative. The first film had far more interesting and creative scares but kudos for using old school techniques to bring on the horror. But I don't think it detracts from the great rapport among the adult and OG Losers Club as you actually give a damn what happens to everyone in the film and hope for the best. The movie at least will encourage you to drop social media for a while and go on a road trip with your barkada to your old haunts (minus the killer clown, of course).

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I'd Recommend It To:

  • Stephen King fans who will squee at all the Easter eggs and chuckle at the very self-aware and self-deprecating inside jokes.
  • The same ardent followers who would like to see a more accurate cinematic adaptation of the novel.
  • General horror fans that enjoy blood, guts, and gore.
  • Anyone who may feel catharsis in watching other people conquer their childhood trauma. They may find inspiration to follow suit.
  • Fans of the first film who became emotionally invested in the OG Losers Club. Expect to see more exploits from the young cast through flashback scenes.
  • Viewers who would like to see relatable, messy adults sort out their lives. #Same #BigMood
  • Nostalgic late '80s-to-early '90s kids who can feel superior over their knowledge of the pop-cultural references in the film. Hint: Street Fighter arcade
  • Thirsty titos and titas who would appreciate Jay Ryan's physique.
  • That particular demographic of viewers who are attracted to Bill Skarsgård's portrayal of Pennywise the clown. You may even see him without makeup. (Don't worry! We don't kink shame here!)
  • Barkadas who want to reminisce on their embarrassing pre-social media days.
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