In 2017, It surprised critics and audiences as, on the back of a cast of excellent young actors, director Andy Muschietti created a remake of the Stephen King classic that was both terrifying and heartfelt. This past weekend, It Chapter Two arrived, reuniting the Losers Club as adults on a quest to kill Pennywise the Clown once and for all. Did the second chapter live up to the lofty standards of the first? Our staff’s thoughts on that and more below …
1. What is your tweet-length review of It Chapter Two?
David Lara: The Losers Club have all moved away to live their best lives... but now must return because Pennywise is back on his bullshit.
Miles Surrey: Could’ve used 100 percent more cosmic space turtle (book readers know!) instead of being a bloated, derivative slog taking the worst cues from superhero franchises.
Andrew Gruttadaro: Never underestimate the added (and in the case of It Chapter Two, missing) value of good child actors.
Mose Bergmann: Sometimes, this is It, and sometimes, this ain’t It, Ch. 2 (ief).
2. What was the best moment of the movie?
Gruttadaro: Since It Chapter Two was billed as a horror movie, I’ll give this award to the only scary moment in the film: when a sans-makeup Bill Skarsgard started powdering his face with deranged vigor before eventually clawing into his skin. That was the good stuff; I wish there had been more of it.
Surrey: Skarsgard is criminally underused in the sequel, but the bleacher and funhouse-mirror sequences did a great job reminding us how easy it is for Pennywise to prey on children’s fear—that thing is scary as shit!
Bergmann: Pennywise was the best part of the first movie, and that remains true for the second, although I wish we could’ve gotten more. He’s a great villain because he is truly a capital-E Evil fucking clown. A highlight of his is when he corners a pre-glowed-up Ben in his schoolroom locker and plays on his weight-related insecurities by posing as a demonic Beverly and begging Ben to “Kiss me, fat boy!”
Lara: It’s definitely Richie and Eddie’s last interaction together, in which Eddie’s last words are “I fucked your mom.”
3. What was your least favorite part of the film?
Lara: Easily the evil, scary Pomeranian; no Pomeranians will ever look the same to me again.
Bergmann: I gotta say, the climactic final defeat of Pennywise was pretty anticlimactic. This evil monster, the manifestation of pure evil, was defeated by … bullying? I sat through two whole chapters of this story, spent an entire afternoon in the theater, just for an iconic horror-movie villain to be defeated by BULLYING?! Pennywise is lucky he never had to prey on Gen Z–ers—a couple of roast sessions from them and it’d be over for that clown.
Gruttadaro: The line “Now we all need to split up and find our artifacts” was a true bummer, as right after it was uttered, I began to understand why this movie’s run time was close to three hours long.
Surrey: The midsection of Chapter Two followed the same pattern as the first one: The Losers Club split apart and have their individual encounters with the monster, and come away miraculously unscathed because Pennywise holds a deep respect for plot armor.
4. Tag yourself as a member of the Losers Club.
Lara: I’m probably Bill but instead of trying to finish writing a book, I’m trying to figure out how to write a tweet.
Bergman: Bill, because I don’t know how to finish answering this qu—
Surrey: I am Mike Hanlon because I, too, love libraries, ingesting various plants, and repeatedly telling people I plan to move somewhere tropical.
Gruttadaro: Being honest? Probably Mike, because I’d definitely lie about some shit I learned while doing hallucinogens.
5. Who was living the best adult life before returning to Derry?
Gruttadaro: Mike was living in an attic alone; Beverly was in an abusive relationship; Ben had grown up to be Adult Taylor Lautner, a.k.a. the only guy who understands how walls work in the architect’s meeting; Eddie was married to someone solely because of her resemblance to his mom (but also driving an Escalade); and Richie was … doing midday stand-up sets in midsize theaters? That leaves Bill, who had married an actress and was making bank on film adaptations of his work despite the implication that everyone thought he generally stunk as a writer—otherwise known as #careergoals.
Lara: Ben had the best glow-up of the whole group, an amazing house, and a job designing skyscrapers.
Surrey: These are all questionable choices, because the point is none of the characters fully escaped the trauma from their childhood, but as a horror writer who gets his work adapted for the big screen by Peter Bogdanovich, Bill can definitely flex the hardest.
Bergmann: Ben was the guy who got to Skype into an important-seeming business meeting SHOELESS and reevaluated an entire building design from a model building he analyzed across the room from a webcam. If that plus his dope bachelor pad ain’t clout, I don’t know what is.
6. Finish the sentence: “In It Chapter Two, Pennywise was …”
Gruttadaro: … somehow not in the movie enough?!
Lara: … hungry for kids, obviously.
you’re fucked up you look horrible you look like a clown a goddamn fucking clown pic.twitter.com/mfmm75xzyk— reaction pictures (@reactionroll) July 27, 2019
Surrey: … felled by a public roast. What a loser.
7. Can a horror movie be nearly three hours long, or does an extended run time blunt the fear factor?
Bergmann: I think a horror movie can be, but the run time definitely hurt the tension-building here. We’ve seen narrative horror series like The Haunting of Hill House be effective in mixing up the scares amid drama, but halfway through It Two, I was just waiting for the damn clown to die.
Lara: It definitely blunted the fear for me. By the end I wasn’t even scared, I was looking to rent a nice studio in Derry.
Gruttadaro: I don’t want to be prescriptive to an entire genre, but at least in the case of It Two, the extended run time—and maybe more importantly, the rote, everyone-gets-a-scare structuring—dulled the senses. Perhaps that would have been a nice setup for a sinuses-clearing climax, but the movie certainly didn’t meet that bar either. Maybe I’m not answering the question correctly, but I do think It Two would’ve been better if it had been a little shorter.
Surrey: I think the It Two discourse is overly concerned with the run time—The Shining is around two and a half hours long, and it’s terrifying—rather than what director Andy Muschietti ends up doing with it. It Two doesn’t validate its lengthy run time because it’s extremely redundant, to the extent that you see its (and Its) scares coming from a mile away.
8. Like Bill Denbrough’s books, does It Chapter Two have a bad ending?
Surrey: Yes, which in a way makes It Two a very faithful King adaptation.
Lara: I wouldn’t say bad but ... defeating an evil clown by bullying him is hilarious.
Bergmann: Yes. Why did they think that the emotional hammer speech of the movie deserved to be delivered by everyone’s least favorite character from the first movie who mattered so little that he died within the first 20 minutes of this movie and it didn’t matter to anybody? It doesn’t answer any of the questions people are really asking: What will Mike do now with his masters degree in clown juju? When will the Losers Club form a roast troupe? Will Mike’s Peter Bogdanovich–directed film be a hit? We want answers!
Gruttadaro: Yes—Stephen King as antique store owner should’ve been the one to kill It.
9. What Stephen King movie or book are you dying to see rebooted next?
Surrey: Doctor Sleep is mere months away, and as a follow-up to one of my favorite films of all time, I’d say the current mood is extremely cautious optimism.
Gruttadaro: Do Cujo again, and make Kevin Costner voice the dog. Dog movies are huge in 2019, and after playing a good pup in The Art of Racing in the Rain, I’d love to see what Costner does with a BAD PUP.
Bergmann: Reboot Maximum Overdrive! Team up with D.A.R.E. and use it as a test case for before/after drugs.