It Chapter Two (Andy Muschietti, 2019, Canada/USA)

         While it is hard to view It Chapter Two outside the context of its superior predecessor, Muschietti’s second outing nevertheless stands on its own. The film is perhaps more successful as an ensemble piece for the adult cast than as a horror film. The interplay between the adult characters – in particular great turns by Bill Hader as Richie Tozier and James Ransone as Eddie Kaspbrak – make the film worth visiting. While the first film piled on the tension with atmospheric set pieces, the scares in Chapter Two are more jumpy. The result is a film that, while very entertaining across its three-hour runtime, nevertheless feels a bit rushed. 
         Still, one has to admire Muschietti’s risk-taking with the project. As others have noted, the IT franchise has taken on a greater scale than other horror films. It is closer in line with something like Star Wars or the Marvel Universe than The Conjuring or SawIt Chapter Two in some ways does feel more like a superhero film than a horror film. Although the scares come often and quickly, the overall tone of the film is more adventurous and fantastical than terrifying. Even the final battle conjures something more out of the Marvel universe – albeit a Lovecraftian Marvel universe – than your average horror film.
         The script is workmanlike, relying on the performances to bring to life the film’s recurring themes of trauma and memory. The film also grapples with some real life horrors as well, opening with a hate crime that the original miniseries left out. Similarly the film explores real life traumas such as spousal abuse. It does so in a way that does not feel shallow or exploitive, because of the emotional resonance at the core of the story. 
         The other positive aspect of Chapter Two is its sense of humor. In large part due to Hader’s contribution, the film never takes itself too seriously – even when it comes dangerously close to doing so. Even if the film is narratively messy, the overall blend of laughs, scares, and drama is a winning formula that makes this a worthwhile sequel.

7/10

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