Is IT: Chapter 2 a perfect movie? Well, yes and no. It’s not a flawless film; however, it is the perfect conclusion to what’s easily one of the best told horror tales of our time. From the simply brilliant casting to the way the story that takes place 27 years after the first film eerily unfolds, IT: Chapter 2 is haunting perfection. It’s also a ringing endorsement that remaking certain films – especially in the horror genre – is a risk worth taking. What was scary decades ago can often look silly now, so it certainly can’t hurt to attempt to update the look and style of a horror flick in order to give it fresh life so that a new generation can lose sleep because of it.
That’s not to say all remakes work, as just because the visuals may be updated, if the story is weak then none of it really matters. With IT and IT: Chapter 2 we’ve got strong source material in the book by Stephen King, and the screenwriters actually took care to craft this terrifying situation taking place in the fictional town of Derry, Maine. In the first film the characters are built so strongly that it allows Chapter 2 to focus on the situation at hand, as well as how our characters have been affected by their past, even if they don’t entirely realize it.
You see, it’s been 27 years since the Losers Club made their blood oath to return to Derry should Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) once again begin terrorising the town; however, everyone but Mike (played as an adult by Isaiah Mustafa) has moved away. When a harrowing attack takes place, Mike knows instantly that the killer clown has returned and that it’s time for him to bring his friends back home.
What’s interesting is that those who moved away also no longer remember the events of that fateful summer in 1989. In fact, none of them seem to have any connection with one another anymore outside of knowing they knew one another when they were younger. So when Mike calls them to return, he isn’t specific as to why, and while they don’t recall those events, fear overtakes each member of the Club when he tells them they need to come home. Despite this feeling, they drop everything and return to Derry.
They all meet at a Chinese food restaurant and this is where we get to see just how phenomenally cast this film truly is. The chemistry between the actors as adults feels as though the filmmakers waited 27 years and the kids that played them in the first film actually returned to play them here. Everyone does such a great job nailing the idiosyncrasies that were brought to life by their younger versions that it’s just amazing to see and really adds to the level of immersion that this epic horror story delivers.
We’ve got the fantastic James McAvoy taking on the part of Bill, the group’s leader of sorts who all these years later is still clearly haunted by the loss of his brother and is unable to find closure in most things because of it; Jessica Chastain in the role of Beverly Marsh, who, now married, finds herself in the abusive victim position once again; Bill Hader as Richie, who has become a famous stand-up comic thanks to his filthy sense of humour; Jay Ryan as Ben, who has shed all his weight and is a successful architect constantly trying to build things to bring people together so they aren’t as alone as he feels; Andy Bean as Stanley, who is just as scared decades later as he was as a kid.
I do want to separate James Ransone here, who plays the part of Eddie. In the first film Eddie was such a fun character, played wonderfully by Jack Dylan Grazer. Young Eddie was mainly known for his germaphobic behaviour, and he had loads of quirks, a specific quick way of talking and was just an incredibly memorable character. While the other actors all did fantastic jobs embodying the roles as well, Ransone absolutely destroys it playing Eddie as an adult. He’s a risk analyst and as soon as we’re first introduced to him this time around, it’s clear that this is 100% the same Eddie 27 years later. And Ransone only gets better as the film progresses, so major kudos to him for his performance here.
But really, everyone is superb and the chemistry between them is great. With the group back together, Mike begins to tell them why they all had this sense of overwhelming fear when he called them, and explains that Derry is a unique town and that the farther you move away from it, the fuzzier your memories become. Slowly they begin to remember their past, and then Pennywise. Their initial instinct is to just go back to their lives, as they don’t want to end up dead; but between Beverly’s premonition that they’d all end up taking their lives out of fear in the coming years if they don’t stay, and the knowledge that other kids may die if they don’t do something as well, the Losers Club decides to stay, honour their oath and aim to put an end to Pennywise’s reign of terror once and for all.
Now, while the first chapter unfolded in a more dramatic horror fashion, with strong focus on building characters and a slower burn, IT: Chapter 2 tosses these characters right into the fire, focusing a lot more on frights and straight-up horror than its predecessor. As a whole this works because of the strong foundation the first film laid out, and as the characters try and remember their past, we also get to go back and watch the returning young actors show us what happened during the short period that the Losers Club broke up midway through the first film. These moments are important to the present day characters, and it’s fun to see their younger selves once again as that cast was also brilliant.
There are a number of incredibly well done moments in IT: Chapter 2 that once again prove that Pennywise doesn’t pick and choose his prey in terms of who the audience would like to see get theirs. In the opening scene, we watch two gay men get brutally attacked by some homophobic bullies outside of a carnival, and while we’d love to see Pennywise just tear into these bastards, he instead picks the prey that is most frightened at the time because that’s how he works. It’s frustrating to watch, as the bullies are actually never seen again and just like the bullies in the first film, while we’d love to see them get picked off, that’s just not how the real world works and love it or hate it, one of the strongest points when it comes to the storytelling in this film and why it’s so scary overall is because it feels like it’s based in reality.
As mentioned at the start, the film isn’t without flaws, mainly with some ill-timed jokes that just miss the mark, but they’re not something that truly impacts the impressiveness of how strong Director Andy Muschietti concludes his horror masterpiece. Combined, IT and IT: Chapter 2 are just over five hours in length, and what’s crazy is that none of that time feels wasted. It’s all time spent building up relatable characters and a story that’s so incredibly engrossing and emotionally captivating that it resonates with you long after the credits roll. Muschietti’s IT truly is one of the best horror stories ever put on screen.
This film looks fantastic in both 4K and Blu-ray, so regardless of what you’re watching it on, you’re in for a visual treat! This is a film that’s soaked in darkness and both formats deliver beautiful blacks and great colours that work together in harmony to keep you completely invested in the story without ever getting distracted by a muddy screen and ugly shadows. The audio mix is also fantastic, absolutely taking the scare level up a notch, with the score heightening the tension and the sound effects and dialogue also coming in strong. All in all, just a wonderful transition from screen to home video format, so great job to the studio here!
Audio Commentary – Director Andy Muschietti gives a solid commentary that’s found on the disc with the film. Definitely worth listening to for some extra insight into all aspects of the movie.
There’s a separate disc of bonus features here, mainly consisting of a big documentary, but all in all it’s a great separate packaging of extras so let’s dive in.
The Summers of IT – Chapter One: You’ll Float Too – This is a 36-minute feature that just cover loads about the first film, with interviews with the kids, great behind-the-scenes footage and it’s just a must-watch for fans of the film. And this is just the first half!
The Summers of IT – Chapter Two: IT Ends – Much like the second film, this feature is an even heftier length at just under 40-minutes overall. We get to see the actors cast as the adult version of the kids talking about taking on the roles, as well as revisiting the kids. Again, just awesome stuff and exactly what you hope for when it comes to special features. They could’ve ended here and it would’ve been great, but there’s still some extra gravy to go on this giant main course.
Pennywise Lives Again – This feature is just under 10-minutes about Skarsgård and his journey into turning into the iconic murderous clown. Just a great, fun watch.
This Meeting of the Losers’ Club Has Officially Begun – This one lands at just over 8-minutes in length and focuses on the child and adult versions of the film’s main characters.
Finding the Deadlights – This featurette is just over 6-minutes in length and sees Stephen King talking about the story, which is a great little addition to cap things off!
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Presents IT: Chapter 2. Directed by: Andy Muschietti. Written by: Gary Dauberman. Based off the Novel by: Stephen King. Starring: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, James Ransone, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, Bill Skarsgård, Andy Bean. Running time: 169 Minutes. Rating: 14A. Released on Blu-ray: Dec. 10., 2019.
Tags: Andy Bean, Andy Muschietti, Bill Hader, Bill Skarsgard, Gary Dauberman, Isaiah Mustafa, James McAvoy, James Ransone, Jay Ryan, Jessica Chastain, Stephen King