It: Chapter Two
Better Than The First
It: Chapter Two begins twenty-seven years after the events of the first one. Temporarily defeated by the losers club, the monstrous Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) returns to terrorize the town of Derry Maine once again. Now, adults, childhood friends have drifted apart and gone their separate ways in life. Mike Hanlon, (Isaiah Mustafa) is the only one to remain in Derry. He calls the other members (Jessica Chastain, James Macavoy, Bill Harder, James Ransone, and Jay Ryan) back home for one final battle after may troubling occurrences. Damaged by the scars of their past, the united friends join together to kill Pennywise who is now stronger than ever before.
What I loved about Chapter Two was that it was more about the loser's friendship with each other than it was about the horror they're surrounded by. Chapter Two actually has quite a bit of humor but that all comes from how comfortable they are with one another. The losers have become very successful in the lives they've built since Chapter One but underneath the success lies the trauma they all share. The performances tell you this more than the events the characters go through. The performances make the events believable. Chastain and Harder’s performances, in particular, are the wings Chapter Two flies with so swiftly.
Jessica Chastain portrays Beverly Marsh with miraculously sincere conviction. Beverly's horror began at home. Chapter One revealed her sexually abusive home life which lies out that Pennywise is not the only reason she's frightened of returning to Derry. She revisits the apartment she and her father had lived in during her youth and the visit resets the fire in her mind she never quite put out. I think that Chastain is the greatest actor of our generation. She always gives mainstream films the complexity they often need. She seems to like horror and I hope she'll continue to be part of those films.
Harder’s Richie Tozier is Chapter Two’s much needed comic relief. He has no filter and without hesitation says what others won't say out loud. Sometimes when people are in frightening situations, they'll react inappropriately as a coping mechanism. This seems to be Richie’s way of dealing with whatever comes at him. His fear is strong enough to make him want to leave but not strong enough that he does so. He's missed his friends and as soon as he sees them, it's as though he's never left.
You'd think Pennywise is an extremely important part of Chapter Two. I hate to disappoint but I did not find that to be the case. He exists solely to keep Chapter Two going. There's no insight into him. No real backstory as to who he is or why he's so evil. He's not even that scary. He’ll just make you jump every 10 minutes. I didn't mind this too much because I cared way more about the losers and how they develop throughout the film.
I respect many audiences will want a deeper view of Pennywise as a character but wishing does not make it so. I'm sure Bill Skarsgard is a very good actor. I'm a big fan of Alexander and Stellen so I'm sure there's some acting gene he owns but Chapter Two gives him no platform to use it. His clown voice is wildly creepy and disturbingly perverted (no shock there) but that's all on the outside. Inside, there must be jars of secrets but Chapter Two doesn't care enough to allow Skarsgard to try and take the lids off.
The visual effects of Chapter Two were a very mixed bag for me. Some of them look cheesy and silly while others looked visually striking. I often caught myself acknowledging how much work goes into making the effects come out the way they do. Filmmaking has endless technology but that doesn't make the job a piece of cake.
Overall, Chapter Two is a mainstream horror that's meant for enjoyment. I'm not usually interested in that kind of mainstream films but the characters of Chapter Two were strong enough to reel me in and definitely strong enough to make me want to see it again.