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Blu-ray Review: It: Chapter Two

December 10, 2019

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

The choice to adapt Stephen King’s massive 1986 book It, which was already made into a miniseries in 1990, into two movies was always going to be a gargantuan undertaking, and after the first film was released in 2017 to strong reviews and huge success at the box office, the pressure to craft a worthy follow up became even more daunting.

Director Andy Muschietti, returning for this sequel along with his sister Barbara Muschietti who once again serves as producer, had his work cut out for him with It: Chapter Two, and while this second instalment can’t quite reach the highs of the first film, it’s still a well crafted dramatic horror movie that features some great moments.

As children, Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Martell), Beverly Marsh (Sophia Lillis), Richie Tozier (Finn Wolfhard), Eddie Kaspbrak (Jack Dylan Grazer), Ben Hanscom (Jeremy Ray Taylor), Stanley Uris (Wyatt Oleff) and Mike Hanlon (Chosen Jacobs) dubbed themselves the Losers Club, and banded together to defeat Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård), an evil clown terrorizing their town of Derry, Maine. Now, 27 years later, Pennywise has returned, and Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), the one member of the original group who stayed in town and became the local librarian, reaches out to the rest of the Losers Club to fulfill their blood pact of reuniting as adults to defeat the demonic clown.

Bill (James McAvoy) is now a successful horror writer, Beverly (Jessica Chastain) is a fashion designer trapped in an abusive relationship, Richie (Bill Hader) has found a career as a standup comedian, Eddie (James Ransone) is now working in risk assessment, and the once chubby Ben (Jay Ryan) is now a slimmed down architect. While they have mostly forgotten the specifics of what happened that summer, the trauma still haunts them, and ultimately proves too much for Stanley (Andy Bean), now a married accountant, who takes his own life shortly after receiving Mike’s phone call. The six reunite in Derry, where they reaffirm their bond and confront their fears in order to defeat Pennywise once and for all.

While the film does feature a few jump moments and has several effectively staged horror set-pieces, including a sequence in a house of mirrors, It: Chapter Two is also content being more of a slow burn that takes its time to reestablish these characters. It’s far removed from the immediate, more youthful thrills of the first film, with long stretches just focusing on the characters and showing where they have ended up in their lives, and that’s not a bad thing.

What It: Chapter Two gets right, and why I ultimately think the choice to divide the book into two halves works in the long run, is that this sequel is able to dig deep into its exploration of childhood trauma, and how even the things from our past that we bury deep inside continue to haunt us. The film is extraordinarily well cast, with the adult cast not only bearing great resemblance to the child actors who portrayed these characters in the first film and reprise their roles here in flashbacks, but also building upon the foundations laid by their younger counterparts.

This is a sprawling film that doesn’t hit every single mark – the already infamous “Angel of the Morning” music cue does come out of nowhere – and at times it does feel bloated and overlong, running close to three hours. But it’s also a very well acted film that features a selection of compelling moments, allowing time for its characters to breathe between the scares, and Skarsgård once again delivers a brilliantly unsettling performance as the evil entity that gives the film its title.

Xavier Dolan also makes the most of his brief but memorable role as a young gay man in Derry who becomes the victim of a homophobic attack in the film’s opening prologue, which is one of the most genuinely upsetting sequences in the film. While It: Chapter Two meanders more and isn’t quite as strong overall as the first film, it’s still a worthy follow up that does a good job of completing this two part adaptation of the book. I look forward to watching it again, along with its predecessor.

The Blu-ray comes with a second disc devoted to bonus features, starting with the two featurettes The Summers of It Chapter One: You’ll Float Too and The Summers of It Chapter Two: It Ends, which are over half an hour each. They are followed by the three equally worthwhile featurettes Pennywise Lives Again, This Meeting of the Losers’ Club Has Officially Begun, and Finding the Deadlights.

It: Chapter Two is a Warner Bros. Home Entertainment release. It’s 169 minutes and rated 14A.

Street Date: December 10th, 2019

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