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  • Eric J. Cullen

REVIEW: 'IT: Chapter Two' Is Okay; Suffering From Lack of Scares and Length

Updated: Sep 21, 2021

Spoilers ahead. The movies. The book. All of it.


I really wanted to like this film and in a small way, I guess I do, but as a whole I have to say that IT: Chapter Two was not the great film I thought it would be. Were my expectations too high? Maybe a little, but with the punch the first film packed I guess I expected the same. No, I expected more from a film that had a near three-hour runtime and a behemoth of a novel as source material to work with.


IT: Chapter Two has its good going for it. The actors and actresses are great and perfectly fit their roles. Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise is truly frightening and his performance helps to start the film off with a bang by hooking the audience, while appealing to fans of the novel. As a fan of the book, it was good to see the death of Adrian Mellon start the film off because I always felt, even as a child, that this part in the book not only showed the return of Pennywise after 27 years, but also the deep rooted evil that has always been a part of Derry. In the novel, the bullies that beat Mellon and dump him over the bridge harbor the same evil that Henry Bowers possesses and would eventually use against the Losers.


Adrian Mellon’s death gets our story started, sparking Mike Hanlon, the only Loser to remain in Derry, to reach out to all his old friends. In the first film the children promised to come back should the killings start again. With so many years gone by since the Losers disbanded, it’s just too bad the movie fails to give more time to these pretty damn important phone calls. With a near three-hour runtime, the importance of the calls gets lost, creating a missed opportunity for what could have been a great chunk of character development and backstory. What's worse is Mike’s calls being undercut by bad attempts at humor and an even worse case of rushed pacing.


More time should have been given to the calls specifically when dealing with Eddie and Richie's scenes. Both scenes could have been more but are reduced to either a build up for meh humor or a gross out, sacrificing any kind of deeper development or backstory. That's not even the worst offense though. Stan’s phone call is so brief that it forgets to establish just how important his call really is to the film and merely tries to explain it off in the end as foresight. While the film does make changes to Stan’s storyline for the buildup in the end, more detail should have been shown during his call and after. It's unfortunate because Stan's chapter feels like it wraps up rather quickly. As a whole, the small bit of movie dedicated to calling the group back together felt like unimportant glimpses into the lives of our now grown up Losers.


With the calls made and the old friends traveling, all but one Loser makes their way back home to Derry. After a reunion dinner that ends in tricks from Pennywise and the destruction of a banquet room that appears to be oddly soundproof, our group learns from Mike that they need to find artifacts from their past to destroy Pennywise. This change to the story is not bad. It's smart and it could have been the set up for some really good scares but the slow pacing and the filler did not allow this to happen. Instead the seach begins for the tokens and prior to that, Henry Bowers is introduced again as the antagonist that never pays off. From here until the start of the end, the movie begins to fall flat and give way to more unnecessary humor.


Like an opposite of the phone call scenes, pacing towards the middle of IT: Chapter Two slows down to a snail’s pace. The scares that come slowly during our Losers' separate searches to reconnect to their pasts, are few. The moments intended to be scary and frightening, like the old lady Kersh and the leper, are hindered by either bad attempts at humor, or cartoonish special effects. The scene with the leper terrorizing Eddie in the pharmacy, digs its own grave mostly with the horrible choice to include a really quick, uncalled for piece of music. The brief moment comes off as an editing mistake, like the sound editor forgot to delete something he was toying with. It completely brought a halt to the film that Eddie's annoying mouth makes worse, as it mostly does throughout the movie. His dialog is mostly made to be snappy and filled with one-liners. It leaves the audience to wonder, why is Eddie now the witty, foul-mouthed comedian when Richie is supposed to be the funny one? The special effects, the bad humor and blending of character traits all just stand out like a sore thumb. Much of it is as bad as, or worse than the rock fight scene in the first film.


That’s not to say that the middle of IT: Chapter Two as a whole is bad. The middle does have its good moments and I did enjoy the scene with Richie and the Paul Bunyan statue. I felt it was a fantastic use of Chekov’s Gun, while also providing the much-needed presence of clown form Pennywise. Seeing the statue in the trailer did build my hype and that scene did meet my expectations greatly. Another cherished moment was when Bill, just like in the novel, stumbles upon an old, rusted companion from his past at a secondhand shop. The scene provides some wholesomeness to the film that makes the audience ponder just how much they can truly forget about a place they have not remembered in so long.


I also enjoyed seeing Henry Bowers in the Juniper Hill Asylum, even though the character in both of Muschietti’s IT films is basically useless, or used as a jump scare. Seriously, Henry Bowers could have been a way better character if he was written more like he was in the book. Even the TV miniseries got Bowers right and the hatred he had towards Mike and the rest of the Losers was frightening. The new Henry Bowers never really comes off as a threat or young psychopath, even when he kills his father in the first film. He becomes less of a nuisance in this film and really provides no danger as the Losers find their tokens to the past.