It’s surely a shameful testament to the state of the genre that Andy Muschietti’s greatest accomplishment with IT Chapter Two is in creating a horror sequel that doesn’t suck. Unlike the follow up monster flicks that came before it, Chapter Two builds upon the momentum of 2017’s IT whilst also being a damn fine adaptation of its source material.
That last point is particularly noteworthy given that Stephen King’s novel is large enough to be used as a weapon. Then there’s the additional problem of deciding how much of the novel’s intergalactic elements (I’m not kidding) make its way into the screenplay. It’s a tricky tightrope that Chapter Two just about pulls off as any of the plot’s more outlandish elements are offset by some of the best casting I’ve ever seen.
It’s rare to see a horror movie with so many mainstream actors, and yet the presence of James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain and the rest of the Losers Club never feels jarring as they embody the same charming personalities of their younger counterparts. As soon as the gang reunites in Derry, I couldn’t help but feel as though I too were seeing good friends again after a prolonged time apart.
Of course, it’d be remiss if I didn’t admit my undying love for Bill Hader. The man is nothing sort of a gift to audiences around the world, and his take on Richie “Trashmouth” Tozier ends up being one of his best performances yet. Taking on the role of the film’s comic relief, Hader still somehow manages to convey more emotional complexity than any of his co-stars.
Returning to Derry also means revisiting that unlovable baby-faced clown that Bill Skarsgård has since injected into everyone’s nightmares. While it’s true that Skarsgård is once again on top form here, the threat posed by Pennywise feels a little dulled due to the fact that we’re now following a group of adults who are fully capable of defending themselves. The Losers Club of the 1980s had a far greater uphill battle than their grown-up selves ever could.
Still, any shortcomings the film has pale in comparison to the sheer rollercoaster of emotions that it throws at the audience. I laughed (many times), incurred heart palpitations and very nearly, almost cried. I am now planning a second, and potentially third viewing.