With Halloween remarkably just around the corner, it’s about that time for the horror to accompany the upcoming cool fall air. After Stephen King’s “It” terrorized and thrilled audiences in 2017 to domestic and commercial success, the sadistic clown, Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), also known as It, has returned in “It: Chapter 2.”
Twenty-seven years have passed since the first film, and the self-proclaimed “Loser’s Club” are no longer kids. Bill (James McAvoy) is now an author and screenwriter; Richie (Bill Hader), to no one’s surprise, is now a stand-up comic; Ben (Jay Ryan), once bullied for being overweight, is now a chiseled architect; Beverly (Jessica Chastain), the only female in the group, is a fashion designer in an abusive relationship with her husband; Eddie (James Ransone) is a risk assessor, and Stanley (Andy Bean), the most conservative of the group, is an accountant.
Last but not least, though, is Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), the only one of the Losers still living in Derry, Maine. Unfortunately, after a tragedy strikes Derry in familiar fashion, Mike knows It has returned, and proceeds to reach out to each one of the Losers.
You see, at the conclusion of the previous film, the Losers made a vow. If It ever returned to Derry, no matter where they are, they would all come together to defeat It for good. Here’s the strange part: After Mike calls each of the Losers, anxiety overrides them all, but they haven't the slightest clue why; only Mike remembers the events from 27 years ago.
Once the Losers all return to Derry, though, that’s when the flashback of horrors come back from that summer. Some remember better than others, but the longer they’re in Derry, the clearer the memories of It’s terror become.
While Mike and Bill are eager to finish what they started and honor their vow, the other Losers seem content going back to their own lives as far away from Derry as possible. One thing is certain: If they are to defeat It, it’s going to take all of them working together, despite their differences and estranged friendship.
One of the true strengths of the first “It” was the chemistry and interaction between the group of young friends. Fortunately, as adults, that chemistry is still there, as the one-liners, jabs and banter are stronger than ever.
Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy shine, as they always do, in their respective roles, but it’s Bill Hader who’s the true star of the show. Playing the jokester of the group in Richie, Hader brilliantly masks his character’s fear through sarcasm and berating one-liners, but it’s his eyes tell the story of the same fear he had as a young boy 27 years ago.
Although competing with the first “It” would be nearly impossible, one of the few advantages the film has over its predecessor is more Pennywise. The sadistic clown is mysterious, haunting and in a strange way, hilarious. Pennywise’s on-screen presence is significantly increased, and all for the better.
While this sequel is extremely long, with a few pacing issues here and there, the journey is worth the destination. “It: Chapter 2” won’t make you scream bloody murder, but it will creep you out just enough to give you that thrill, and avoid the circus for the foreseeable future.