IT: CHAPTER TWO Review – An Epic/Fantastic Tale of Enduring & Overcoming Childhood Trauma

Starring Bill Skarsgård, Finn Wolfhard, Jessica Chastain

Written by Gary Dauberman (based on the novel by Stephen King)

Directed by Andy Muschietti

IT: Chapter Two doesn’t feel like a sequel. Whereas 2017’s IT took place exclusively in the 1980s, IT: Chapter Two switches back and forth between the past and the present, featuring The Losers Club as both adolescents and adults. As such, it feels like an extension of IT: Chapter One and, after multiple viewings, the borders between the two films will likely bleed over until they’re completely indistinguishable. This is important to keep in mind, as it eschews preconceived expectations regarding what a sequel should be. It’s also the conclusion to a saga that stretched decades; whereas most sequels attempt to establish a property as a franchise, this one brings the tale to a hard stop. Ironically, the fact that IT ends may be the film’s biggest drawback.

2017’s IT: Chapter One was a critical and financial success by any measure, but it wasn’t universally lauded. While most everyone agreed Muschietti’s IT ran circles around the made-for-TV miniseries adaptation from 1990 (Tim Curry’s portrayal of Pennywise notwithstanding), the film itself had sticking points for some. Still, anyone with bones to pick over 2017’s IT might have told themselves: “I’ll withhold judgment until I’ve seen IT: Chapter Two.” Once seen, however, there’s nothing left to look forward too. If moviegoers are left with lingering complaints, there won’t be another chapter to rectify them. This is most problematic when considering that IT: Chapter Two is a film that audiences and Stephen King fans are extremely invested in.

It: Chapter Two is ambitious, honestly attempting to do right by the source material; it’s clearly made for the fans, but a movie that attempts to please everyone will inevitably dissatisfy others. Remember, the source tome is nearly 1,000 pages long; a thorough adaptation would take a decade just to produce. And we’re dealing with concepts like Pennywise’s “true form”, something so terrifying it renders victims immediately insane. While the execution of this reveal is worlds better than the plastic-looking spider from 1990, it can’t possibly compare with the terror moviegoers conjure up in their own imaginations. So will hardcore King fans feel let down by IT: Chapter Two’s omissions and execution? Some undoubtedly will.

It’s also important for serious gorehounds to remember that the novel IT is as much fantasy as it is horror. If you found the idea of dead children floating around a mountain of debris in IT: Chapter One hard to believe—you ain’t seen nothing yet! And while many will adore the shift into cosmic dread with effects-heavy battles between good and evil, those hoping for a straight-up creepy clown movie will balk. Whereas IT: Chapter One felt at least somewhat grounded by the real-life horrors associated with coming of age, IT: Chapter Two goes completely off the rails. I’m barely exaggerating when I say that Chapter Two reaches Lord of the Rings levels of fantasy; this makes the horror otherworldly, but also somehow more distant than it was back in 2017. It’s the difference between experiencing fear for fun vs pure, unadulterated (yet still thrilling) escapism.

Those who saw the film early couldn’t stop praising Bill Hader’s portrayal of grown-up Richie Tozier, and I concur that the actor’s great. The true casting genius however (in my humble opinion) is James Ransone as grown-up Eddie Kaspbrak. Whereas I doubt Finn Wolfhard (the actor who plays young Richie) will actually grow to resemble Hader, Ransone and Jack Dylan Grazer (the actor who plays young Eddie) could actually be related. It’s like Ransone is Grazer’s “Future Me”, and both young and adult Eddies nail the character impressively. That said, all of the adult Losers were excellent; each actor aptly portrays what feels like a natural evolution of the characters Muschietti introduced back in 2017.

One thing I wasn’t prepared for was how emotional IT: Chapter Two is. The reporter to my right (who I won’t identify out of respect) went through half a box of Kleenex during the film’s 3rd Act. But like the previously mentioned Lord of the Rings, the conclusion of an epic saga can be sentimental. And IT: Chapter Two brings the story of The Losers Club and Pennywise the Dancing Clown to a profound conclusion. The sensation was similar to the sorrow I felt at the end of the HBO series Six Feet Under: Knowing that I’ll never be meeting these characters again is heavy, because I’ve established genuine bonds with Bill, Ben, Bev, and all the rest.

But IT: Chapter Two is nothing if not a celebration of spirit, a portrait of adults who both endured and overcame childhood traumas and seemingly insurmountable obstacles. So it’s bittersweet; this is the end of IT, but the souls of these characters can rest in peace. And, in our minds, they can even thrive, achieving levels of joy that seemed despairingly out each during the saga’s darkest turns. IT: Chapter Two offers something few horror movies even attempt to convey: Hope. Young adults may be inspired to face their demons head-on; the rest of us will be reminded that hardship can breed determination, inspiration, and success. IT: Chapter Two is a film that thrills, entertains, and leaves us feeling transformed—for the better.



IT: Chapter Two is bigger and more profound than Chapter One, even if it rarely feels as scary. The film works best as when viewed as part of an overarching saga that began in 2017 (as opposed to a traditional sequel). Bill Hader and James Ransone are the standouts from the adult Losers Club, and Bill Skarsgård’s Pennywise is (once again) spot on! The film’s hard-stop will be bittersweet for those who established genuine, emotional connections with the characters.

User Rating 5 (1 vote)


Sign up for The Harbinger a Dread Central Newsletter