By Brennan Atkins, Arts & Features Editor
By Noah Barnes, Entertainment Corespondent
“It,” directed by Andy Muschietti was a 2017 horror film that brought life back into the cult-followed novel of the same name, written by Stephen King. It surprised us, and audiences, with its captivating imagery and genuinely talented youth cast.
“It Chapter Two,” once again directed by Muschietti, includes James McAvoy as Bill Denbrough, Jessica Chastain as Beverly Marsh, Bill Hader as Richie Tozier, Isaiah Mustafa as Mike Hanlon, Jay Ryan as Ben Hanscom, Andy Bean as Stanley Uris, and Bill Skarsgård returning as the infamous Pennywise.
Horror sequels that live up to the quality of the original seem to be few and far between, and for good reason. The director is challenged with the task of maintaining the level of suspense from the last film, while also having to introduce new characters or environments to keep the threat – whether clown, doll, or shark – interesting.
It seems like Pennywise might be out of material after waiting for 27 years because for a self-proclaimed dancing clown, he’s not very interesting in this film.
This is no fault of Skarsgård as an actor, as he has glimpses of creepiness that may even trump the first movie, but they’re nothing more than a shimmer. Nothing is on-screen long enough containing Pennywise for a feeling of eeriness to set in – We know what Pennywise was capable of, show us what he can do now.
In our “It” review from 2017, we wrote, “Child actors are scarce, which makes it all the more amazing when you include eight phenomenal performances from these kids.”
What’s even more amazing – even mind-boggling – is not including them in anything more than candids, especially when the movie is three hours long. The original novel interweaves them as children more, and the chemistry of the adults is awkward and downright boring at times.
The casting for this movie in terms of looks is perfect – they really do look like the older versions of the characters – but it almost feels like this is where the casting crew was like “OK, we’re done.”
Looks for a character are important, but on a surface level. Most importantly, the actors lack the chemistry that was such a vital part of the first film, almost reminiscent of a R-rated “Scooby-Doo” franchise – the kids had chemistry and felt attached to reality.
We absolutely cannot feel attached to reality when a 40-year-old James McAvoy is riding on his ancient childhood bike screaming, “Hi-Ho Silver,” when there are lives at stake.
The adults all still talk as if they are from their childhoods, which is supposed to come off as a lighthearted friendship and banter, but just gets a little old after the third “your mom” joke.
We get it.
You can tell that Muschietti is trying, taking risks, but it feels as if a lack of foundation in terms of story was the downfall for the rest of the film. Visually, there are some creepy, interesting things that you won’t see in many other films, but that cannot be enough of a reason for a three-hour runtime.
It is not the fact it runs for three hours, but the fact they don’t do anything with that time. Getting to Derry in the first place feels like it took way too long, and it set a snail’s pace that is maintained for the rest of the movie.
As was the case with the first movie, it wasn’t necessarily scary, as we feel the ambition was more toward a feeling of creepiness, but even then, it doesn’t stay consistent.
While we’d like to say that anyone who enjoyed the first film will find satisfaction in seeing the demonic clown on the screen once more, it’s unfortunately not enough to keep the rest of the film intact. The tensions between the children and Pennywise in the previous film were the catalysts for horror, and without that, it’s just a bunch of people hanging around a clown.
And that’s kinda what this is.
“It” Dragged on. C+