By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
Normally, movies with a run-time of 169 minutes would give me pause. Not this one. “IT Chapter Two”
a horror movie fan could want and more.
Andy Muschietti, who directed the 2017 original blockbuster movie “IT”-- which is based on the 1986 Stephen King novel and is the highest grossing horror film ever--returns at the helm here. He pulls out all the stops in this thrilling finale that rivals its predecessor in almost every way.
The last time we saw “The Losers Club” in their hometown of Derry Maine; stuttering teen leader Bill (Jaeden Martell, “IT” and “St. Vincent” ), goofball Richie (Finn Wolfhard, upcoming “The Addams Family”) ), germophobe Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer, “Shazam!”), free spirit Beverly (Sophia Lillis, “Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase”), history buff Mike (Chosen Jacobs, TV’s “Hawaii Five-O”), studious Stanley (Wyatt Oleff, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”) and “Big” Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor, “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween”), battled the evil, shape-shifting, red balloon carrying killer clown “Pennywise,” (Bill Skarsgard, “Deadpool 2” and “Allegiant”).
They also took a blood oath that if Pennywise ever returned, they would too and finish him off.
Well, 27 years later, the psycho clown is back in Derry eager to wreak havoc.
The kids, now adults, have all left Derry except for homeboy Mike (Isaiah Mustafa, “The Old Spice Guy”). He’s a librarian in town and the first to notice that Pennywise is back. So, he summons everyone to drop everything and come home. That’s easier said than done since they all have jobs, families and responsibilities.
Bill (James McAvoy, “Dark Phoenix” and “Glass”) is a best-selling mystery novelist, kind of like Stephen King. Bill’s fans—including his wife—always tell him he doesn’t know how to end a story. That’s a funny, running gag in the film that features a Stephen King cameo.
Beverly (Sacramento’s own Jessica Chastain, “Dark Phoenix”) is a fashion designer and is fetching as ever. It’s too bad she’s married to an abusive husband.
Of course, motor-mouth Richie (a scene stealing Bill Hader, TV’s “Barry”) is now a successful stand-up comedian.
Ben (Jay Ryan, TV’s “Mary Kills People”) who was bullied in school because he was fat, has the last laugh. He’s a hot, hunky architect which isn’t lost on Beverly who was the only person in school that talked to him and she’s so glad she did.
Eddie (James Ransone, TV’s “The First”) hasn’t changed a bit. He’s a businessman, but still a talkative, overanxious wreck.
Stanley (Andy Bean, TV’s “Swamp Thing”) is an accountant and for reasons I won’t divulge, he doesn’t keep his end of the deal.
Most of the crew don’t remember the horrific events from the past, but Mike sure does. When they get together for dinner at a Chinese restaurant, it doesn’t take long before they realize Pennywise is clowning them because some creepy and downright terrifying things start to happen. When you see this scene, you may never want to eat a fortune cookie again.
The scares in “IT Chapter Two” are genuinely frightening and unpredictable. Pennywise is darker and much more menacing. He makes his presence known at a baseball game, over a cup of tea, in a park with a gigantic and demonic Paul Bunyan statue, under a bed, in a bathroom, a funhouse and even a closet. There’s no safe place. There are zombies and ghouls, a severed head that sprouts spidery legs and a naked, wicked old lady among many other haunting images.
The film also pays homage to movies such as “The Shining,” “Carrie” and “Pet Sematary.”
”IT Chapter Two” isn’t perfect. It’s structural shifts and tone make it feel a bit disjointed at times, but never so much that it goes off the rails.
I saw this one at an IMAX theater and it just seemed to up the fright factor. Bigger is better and bigger is scarier.
Most of all, “IT Chapter Two” works because of its phenomenal cast. Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, James McAvoy and Jaeden Martell are among the standouts and so is Bill Skarsgard. He is absolutely frightening as Pennywise.
I wasn’t bothered by the lengthiness of “IT Chapter Two.” I never checked my watch. This one kept me locked in from start to finish. It’s thrilling.
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Watch This Crazy Trailer For "IT CHAPTER TWO"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of The Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), The Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC), The Alliance Of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ) and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.