Film Review: IT Chapter 2

The shapeshifting clown Pennywise is back, but instead of tormenting the children of Derry, he has taken over Pop In A Box.

Directed by Andy Muschietti, IT (2017) is one of the most thrilling horror films to ever to hit the big screen. It is the highest-grossing horror film of all time and made an incredible $327.5 million in the first year. How was the second installment lived up to everyone’s expectations? Let’s find out.

IT Chapter 2

The carnivalesque sequel of the beloved horror franchise was released in 2019 and set 27 years after the first installment. The film begins with a wicked reminder of the oath made by the infamous ‘Losers Club’, should Pennywise ever return to Derry, as well as the fun they all had defeating the ‘Eater of Worlds’ in the first film. Muschietti then portrays a world in which the clown has returned and is wreaking havoc in the small town of Maine. Instantly fear is induced, with a graphic portrayal of the spine-chilling death of Adrian Mellon, whilst on a date with his boyfriend Don Hagarty.

The story progresses violently with a nail-biting plot, leaving audiences on edge as they return home and promptly check for monsters living under their beds (specifically killer-clowns). The film managed to maintain pace and action despite a runtime of almost three hours, ensuring all eyes were firmly fixed on the big screen throughout. There were, of course, certain standout moments that resonated most with me.

The Best & Worst Bits Of IT Chapter 2

A great strength of this film is in the casting; award-winning actors which undoubtedly raised its profile including James McAvoy as older Bill Denbrough (Split, Glass), Jessica Chastain as Beverly Marsh (Molly’s Game, Mama) and the brilliant Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise (Hemlock Grove, Castle Rock). There has, however, been some criticism of McAvoy and Chastains’ performances, and I would argue that perhaps if actors, more accustomed to the horror genre had been selected, the film may have been better received by audiences.

On the other hand, Bill Hader (Barry, Superbad, Trainwreck) brought witty humor, raw emotion, and overall, an excellent portrayal of Richie ‘Trashmouth’ Tozier. Additionally, the portrayal of Henry Bowers was masterfully executed by Teach Grant. He captured every aspect of the character, from the intoxicatingly menacing smile to the harrowing aura of a man, previously detained in a psychiatric hospital for 27 years. One of my favourite moments is when Bowers follows a balloon around his psychiatric ward, only to find the dead Patrick Hockstetter lurking under his bed. This part of the film adaptation perfectly captures the marvelously frightening world created by Stephen King, leaving the viewer terrified to the core; exactly as King intended. This part does stray from the book slightly, with Victor Criss being the one who helps Bowers in the novel and Patrick being…well… if you know, you know.

Aside from the actors, the adaptation of characters from the book did on occasion, disappoint. Firstly, there are disappointing absences felt by the lack of interesting characters from the novel. Where was the helpless Audra? What about the abusive Tom? Or even the turtle?! That turtle! Where was it? Secondly, Tozier’s humor in the film adaptation arguably detracted from the scare-factor, which prevails in the book. Despite these deviances from the original portrayal, the film was still thoroughly entertaining.

The benefit of Film is the ability to use sensory devices to create tension; a skill perfectly utilised here. Perhaps the greatest example of this is the scene in the hall of mirrors. For me, the anticipation built through the ominous music, distorted camera angles and strobe light-effects, juxta-posed with the helpless of Bill, shocks viewers into a frenzy of fear and prepares them for what is to come. From this scene onwards, the sound volume increases, along with the intensity of the action. Later, an emotional Richie reminisces about the past; a reference to John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’, generating a smile at the ending. King’s short cameo was also a great addition, although I would say his acting skills leave something to be desired.

Gore-fans will praise its presentation in this film; the horrifying scenes involving Pennywise biting off heads and catching fireflies are played out in full and are certainly not for the fainthearted.

Final Verdict?

Skarsgard’s portrayal of the sadistic Pennywise was simultaneously mesmerizing and horrifying and is integral in captivating audiences in this film. Pennywise is amongst the greatest horror villains of all time, along with my hero Audrey II. The horror wasn’t short, and neither was the action that helped to bring this film right into the 21st century. Muschietti’s ability to bring this world to life, smartly appealed to fans of horror, King and mainstream audiences.

This film will leave long-standing impressions in fans of both King and Horror. I was thoroughly thrilled with the result, despite my complaints. Hopefully the legend of Pennywise the dancing clown doesn’t stop there, and we get another installment in another fifty years… But you know what they say about Derry… no one who dies here ever really dies…

RATING: 4.5/5

By Benny Johns

For all things pop culture-related, follow us on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and TikTok.

Angus Scott

Angus Scott

Writer and expert

Angus is a content writer, SEO executive, and social media admin who is an avid film enthusiast and binge watches The Walking Dead, Peaky Blinders, and The Office.