Story Over Scares on “IT Chapter Two”

Michael Murphy, Contributing Writer

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“IT Chapter Two” asks a very important question: What are your most important memories — the ones that made you who you are?

Directed by Andres Muschietti and released on Sept. 6, 2019, “IT Chapter Two” is the sequel to the blockbuster hit “It” from 2017, staged 27 years after the first movie.

The film is not your typical bloody horror flick, where the main purpose is to create scares in unique new ways, over and over again.

This movie, like the one it sequels, differs from most in the horror genre, existing quintessentially as a story meant to touch upon deeper emotions. “IT Chapter Two” uses horror elements as a vehicle to deliver the compelling story.

This key attraction is not only a breath of fresh air for both casual and veteran movie-goers, but it also helps to make the more horrific parts a little bit more tolerable, and in a very strange way occasionally fun.

Despite the high praise, if you have a particularly weak stomach to this sort of thing, it might be best to skip it. It does get pretty hairy in more than a few places.

There were not only way more expertly-delivered jokes in the movie than expected, but more genuine laughs to boot. Of all the movies to expect a real collective theater experience from — people laughing and crying and screaming together — this wasn’t one of them, but it happened anyway.

The movie’s crowning cinematographic achievement is its unique transitions from scene to scene. The seamless changes of scenery from 1989 Derry, Maine — the central location of the protagonists — to its modern counterpart, as well as the age difference-revealing transitions of the younger and older protagonists, are worth appreciating.

Unfortunately, like all things, this movie has its fair share of problems, too.

The first 30 — 60 minutes feel needlessly protracted. Perhaps the whole movie is just a tad too long, with a runtime of two hours and 50 minutes. If you watched the first “It” movie in 2017, then you remember the chemistry shared by the young cast members.

Finn Wolfhard, Jaeden Leiberher, Jack Dylan Grazer, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Chosen Jacobs and Wyatt Oleff playing as Ritchie, Bill, Eddie, Beverly, Ben, Mike and Stanley respectively. The cast worked so well together the first time around, and they do it again for more than a few times in this film.

They are succeeded, however, by Bill Hader, James McAvoy, James Ransone, Jessica Chastain, Jay Ryan, Isaiah Mustafa and Andy Bean, respectively, as their counterparts from 27 years into the future. During the slower bits of the first act of the movie, it may seem like the magic of the younger “losers” (as they so gallantly refer to themselves) is gone. But soon enough, the new crew picks up the ball where the kids left it.

On the opposite corner of the losers sits the resident satanic clown monster Pennywise, brought demonically back to life for one last round of good scares by Bill Skarsgård. Unfortunately, some of Pennywise’s “gags” (if you want to call them that) fall a little flat; occasional spots of lackluster CGI soften the scares.

One more thing: this movie gives a keen sense that the protagonists are the only things that are real, which creates an extra intense level of theater experience. If you are okay with feeling fear for the sake of a good story, watch “IT Chapter Two.”