Two years ago, killer clowns will all the rage. At a time when there were stories of clowns menacing people, It, based off of the Steven King book by the same name, blew up in popularity. As the sequel, It: Chapter Two had a lot to live up to.
Unfortunately, the sequel fails to live up to its predecessor’s quality or success.
Twenty-seven years after the events of the first movie or book, Pennywise returns to terrorize the town of Derry once again. People start disappearing, and Mike, the only one to stay behind, calls the other Losers, the group from the first movie, home to fight Pennywise.
Now grown, the Losers come together after being separated for almost three decades. They recover old memories as they wander around town trying to stop Pennywise once and for all. This movie is basically the plot of Steven Universe: The Movie with the aesthetics of Stranger Things. While it still has some creepy imagery, it focuses more on the characters than the horror aspect.
The rest of this contains spoilers, but the movie is so predictable spoilers don’t really matter.
To be completely honest, the opening scene kind of threw me off for the rest of the movie. The movie starts with some homophobes attacking a gay couple, throwing one of them into a river where Pennywise finds and kills him in front of his boyfriend. Obviously, horror movies are known for having disturbing material in them, but this seemed strange to include. The amount of time spent establishing these characters and the prolonged viciousness of the attack seemed unnecessary. Considering that the writers could have chosen from a million different scenarios to start the movie, I assumed that these characters would come back into play later especially once it’s hinted at that Richie, one of the Losers, is gay. However, neither the homophobes nor the surviving boyfriend ever come back into the story. This quickly became the first in a long series of plot lines that would never get any meaningful resolution.
As I mentioned earlier, the movie mainly centers around the characters visiting places from their childhood to regaining memories. Apparently, this is necessary because moving away from Derry made them lose their memories for some reason. The way this was done was weird because it is never explained how much of their memory is affected, or why Pennywise has this power. Ben and Bill both seem to remember their crush on Beverly, who they are still pining over in an underdeveloped, emotionless love triangle. Maybe I wasn’t listening when they explained it, but it’s just as likely that they never did.
This plot point made the movie almost comically dull as the majority of the film is scenes of the characters going around gazing wistfully at decaying buildings and having flashbacks. The threat of danger in the first two hours of the movie is so nonexistent there is no tension at all. Most of the scary stuff comes in the form of memories of hallucinations, providing no reason for the audience to feel fear on anything above a superficial level.
The only character who didn’t get any development throughout the three hours of screen time was Mike. Besides thirty seconds of a flashback, the story presents Mike as nothing more than the crazy one obsessed with Pennywise. When the whole plot of the movie is driven by character development, it’s noticeable when only one character doesn’t get any.
In addition to that, I also have problems with the overall plot. In the movie, they delve more into the history of Pennywise, which goes in a simultaneously unexpected and cliche direction. Mike reveals that the power that inhabits Pennywise’s body is alien in nature and the only way to defeat him is through a Native American ritual. At this point, I genuinely thought the movie was messing with me. In my opinion, this seemed like the dumbest explanation possible. I’d be willing to give the benefit of the doubt for one horror cliche, but the two together push the limit of what I can tolerate.
Another pointless character plot is the reveal that Beverly had an abusive husband and an abusive father. My main problem with this detail is that it has no bearing on her interactions with the other characters. One would assume that her history of abusive men would at least influence the love triangle dynamic, but it never does.
Bill, who became a famous horror author, also had a weird subplot of never writing a good ending. And it’s not just some throwaway detail — throughout the film, several different characters confront him about how terrible his endings are. Somehow, in the logic of this movie, going back to Derry to beat Pennywise gives him the magic ability to write better. I don’t know why this was brought up as much as it was because it makes no sense and it isn’t interesting.
Going back to what I said about nothing ever being resolved, the end of the movie was rushed, predictable, and underwhelming. Considering that there was no real threat of danger the rest of the film, it was inevitable that someone had to die. That someone just so happened to be Eddie, my second favorite character. Eddie and Richie were the only characters I cared for because they had some genuinely funny moments. Anyways, Eddie’s death leads to the reveal that Richie, who had been nothing but antagonistic to him the whole movie, had a crush on him since childhood. It comes as less of a reveal and more of a subtly hinted at conclusion. The audience is supposed to interpret this from a scene at the very end where Richie revisits a carving he made as a teen that reads “R+E.” Like most things in this film, this was pointless because it didn’t affect their interactions at all.
I did find the ending somewhat enjoyable because of the bonkers way the Losers defeat Pennywise. After nearly two and a half hours of the Losers dealing with all these clown shenanigans, they defeat Pennywise with the power of verbal abuse. The climactic moment is them standing in a circle and yelling at him until he dies. I was wheezing through this whole super-serious scene because of how insane it felt. There’s something about seeing five grown adults yelling “You’re just a clown” menacingly at him as he melts into the floor. This scene made me wish that the characters were still teens because it would be unbelievably awesome to see a bunch of gangly kids roasting a clown to death.
Overall the movie was too long, the end too predictable, and the plot just boring. The biggest failing was the rushed ending and the multiple unfinished character plots. On the other hand, it had a strong small-town horror aesthetic and it had some decently funny moments. Even though it is not a good horror movie, it’s not a bad movie overall. I would still recommend it as a good movie to watch with friends.