Demon clowns: they’re just like us. At least that’s what It Chapter 2 tells us after three hours of listening to a bunch of beautiful people call themselves losers over and over again. Andy Muschietti’s follow up to his 2017 Stephen King classic is a heartwarming exploration of human fear, friendship, and how believing that you can kill the monster will help kill the monster—whatever monster that might be.
The film takes place 27 years after the end of the first one. The members of the Losers Club have all gone their separate ways to lead very different lives except for one—Mike (Isiah Mustafa). When a string of attacks and disappearances start haunting the small town of Derry, Mike gathers his friends to take them up on their promise to come back to their hometown so that they can kill the sewer-lurking, child-eating monster clown, Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard).
With the Losers Club back in Derry, it doesn’t take long before creepy things start happening. While the initial reaction for some of the friends was to flee, Bill (James McAvoy) gives Mike the benefit of the doubt and listens to him (you know, like friends should). With Bill enlightened, it doesn’t take long before the rest of the group agree to Mike’s plan. That’s when the scary stuff really starts happening—each one of them are forced to confront their childhood fears.
Making people sit still in a movie theater for almost three hours isn’t an easy task, but Andy Muschietti was able to capture the audience for this amount of time and make it feel like time just flew by. If it wasn’t for the characters being well-written and well-rounded, people would have probably stopped caring about them midway. It’s easy to get distracted by the fact that the grown up Losers Club members are stellar actors, but they’re stellar actors for a reason. They all took notes from their child counterparts from the first film and really brought to life characters that were familiar to the fans of the first movie.
In the end, it’s the characters who managed to make the whole ordeal a worthwhile thing to watch. You fall in love with them instantly; the transition from their childhood to their adult selves is so seamless. The humor sprinkled throughout the film is sharp and reminiscent of the first film and gives the audience space to breathe. The Stephen King cameo was a nice treat, too.
I will say, however, that as much as I understood that the point of the opening sequence, which featured Xavier Dolan getting physically assaulted because of being gay, was to further emphasize Richie’s (Bill Hader) very real fears later on in the movie, it was a little hard to watch. I’d go so far as to say that it was the scariest part of the film because it’s a reality that we still live in.
With that said, the film did lack in the scare factor and leaned into predictable jumpscares to supply that need. Given that the film’s goal isn’t necessarily to scare but to tell a story about a group of people overcoming their fears, they still could have done more to up the ante. The lack of Pennywise himself was kind of disappointing. (We know the other monsters were him, too, but still.)
Overall, while not a perfect film, It Chapter 2 brought heart to the horror table. It tells children and adults alike that believing that you can overcome whatever monster you might be facing is the first step to defeating it. It tells us that bullies are just insecure. And it tells us that no matter how scary things can get, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.