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article imageReview: ‘It Chapter 2’ is worth the creepy trip back to Maine Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Sep 7, 2019 in Entertainment
‘It Chapter 2’ marks the return of Pennywise to Derry and an unwanted second chance for the Losers Club triumph over evil.
You can’t always go home again… and sometimes, you flat out don’t ever want to again. Not everyone had happy childhoods, either due to family trauma, schoolyard bullies — or unspeakable monsters hiding around dark corners and in sewer drains. But sometimes going back isn’t a choice. Sometimes going back means fulfilling a promise you made nearly three decades earlier to return if “It” returned. There’s unfinished business in Derry, Maine and only a group of seven now distant friends can put an end to the evil that’s haunted that town for centuries. In It Chapter 2, it’s time for everyone to come home.
While everyone else moved away to live fabulous lives in big cities, Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) was the only member of the Losers Club to stay. Consequently, he’s also the only one to remember the solemn blood oath he and his childhood friends pledged 27 years earlier. When the killings start again, Mike calls each of his friends and tells them it’s time to come home. Most are happy to reunite their society of outcasts for a night of food and drinks, but their gathering has a greater purpose. The more they reminisce, the more they remember — until finally they start to remember the fight against Pennywise the Clown (Bill Skarsgård), and their pledge to come back and kill him once and for all.
At two hours and 49 minutes, this chapter is a slower burn than the first one. Audiences are becoming acquainted with them as adults, while they’re becoming reacquainted with themselves as children via a series of tasks assigned by Mike. Flashbacks show what they did that summer after Bill and Richie’s fight separated everyone and Pennywise paid each of the losers a visit. Finding them alone, it zeroes in on their fears – then and now – in an attempt to break their spirit and commitment. These thrilling sequences feature the clown in unimaginable forms that will make people’s skin crawl and pimple with disgust and dread, respectively.
It’s interesting to see two actors, years apart, depicting the same character. In spite of the impression that half the adult cast may have been selected for their fame rather than suitability, they look enough like the young people that launched the film to maintain continuity. In fact, there are several transitions that phase from the younger to the older versions or vice versa, and they’re seamless. However, being back in Derry is accompanied by a necessary regression, particularly around Pennywise, which the adult cast manages authentically — it’s not often older actors are studying the portrayal of their characters’ younger selves to deliver a great performance. But everyone also brings their own version flavour to the characters since they are a few decades apart.
The eerie atmosphere is established in the opening scene before Pennywise even appears on screen and is then repeatedly heightened by his presence. He’s not as subtle as he once was because he wants to make sure the Losers Club comes home so he can have his rematch. The red balloon and dead lights are also very prominent in this second chapter, though the evil clown has many never-before-seen tricks up his sleeve, including a literal pool of blood and new impersonations. On the flipside, there are still a number of laughs and snickers to occasionally alleviate the tension. Even when approaching certain death, Richie can be relied on to tell a joke, often in bad taste but still very funny.
The characters face a lot of crazy, terrifying stuff before they’re able to take the fight to Pennywise again, and it does a pretty good job of trying to throw them off their game. The film once again handles some things differently than the book, but the movie definitely still works as a whole… it even has the Stephen-King-cameo stamp of approval.
Director: Andy Muschietti
Starring: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy and Bill Hader
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