It Chapter Two ★★★★

Back in 2017, IT was a runaway success. The blend of fun-house horror, comedy and genuine heart was a perfect storm, making it the highest grossing R-Rated horror movie of all time. I loved the first installment so naturally IT: Chapter 2 was one of my most anticipated films for this year. So how does it measure up?

IT: Chapter Two is a bigger, more ambitious film than it's predecessor. Chapter One was a linear, streamlined and very effective coming of age horror story. By design, the sequel isn't able to replicate the linearity and relative simplicity of the first chapter and the narrative can sometimes feel clunkier as a result. The story now takes place 27 years after the first film with our Losers' Club all grown up. Intertwined with the new modern day scenes are flashbacks which take us back to the timeframe of the first film. A lot of the flashbacks are woven into the narrative quite well, though towards the middle act the structuring can feel repetitive, starting in the present and then flashing back for each character in turn. That said, even though it has an enormous 169 minute runtime, I didn't find it too bothersome and I never got bored.

This is largely in part due to the great performances from both the young and the adult cast who invest you in each character's individual story. The casting for the adult characters is truly top notch and you never doubt that they're the adult versions of the characters you got to know in Chapter One. Bill Skarsgård also doubles down on his brilliant work from part one, somehow being simultaneously funny and creepy.

Where the first film was a coming of age tale in a horror skin, this film is about confronting repressed trauma and insecurities. Each of the losers spends time uncovering memories from their childhood and they are all newly affected by these memories in different ways, giving Pennywise ammunition to weaken them and fuel their fear. During the final battle it's clear that the film's message is one of self acceptance. If you accept yourself and your past, those who try to use your insecurities against you are powerless.

While IT: Chapter Two isn't quite as solid a film as the first part, there's still lots to enjoy. The set pieces are thrilling, it's grand in scale and it isn't afraid to get weird. Despite some structural shortcomings, it feels true to Stephen King's style and it's a satisfying conclusion to the story of the Losers' Club.