When Stephen King’s ‘It’ got another film adaptation in 2017 the well-received movie had audiences eagerly anticipating the second instalment. But ‘It Chapter Two’ delivered a lackluster conclusion. 

'It Chapter Two' had a lot of big name actors, but it didn't leave as big an impact as 'It' (2017).
It was an amazing movie not just horror, but in general. So It Chapter Two wound up disappointing.

It’s Tomatometer clocks a score of 85% Fresh, while It Chapter Two landed at only 63%. Now, It Chapter Two is not a bad movie, it just didn’t have nearly the impact of It (2017). Normally the second half of a story is better, because the rising action leads to higher stakes as the story progresses. I made this point in an article about sequels that were better than the originals.

The It series does not belong to this list. This is because the stakes don’t feel higher in It Chapter Two. And it’s very simple to explain why.

Kid Protagonists vs Adult Protagonists

Could it be that simple? Basically, yes. In It children’s lives are at stake. In It Chapter Two, the gang returns to Derry 27 years later, as fully formed adults. Now considering one of the gang kills himself rather than reconvene, there is the feeling that the characters have become more disposable, which does add tension. Though the tension is still not on par with It (2017).

Pennywise the clown is often in the movie referred to as “It,” and that’s because “It” isn’t a clown, “It” represents fear itself. It is an entity that takes many forms, it’s almost more of a supernatural force than a physical creature.

So we’re talking about literally facing the personification of fear. What is more dramatic? A group of 13-year-old kids facing their fears, or a bunch of 40 somethings? That question pretty much answers itself, right? I guess there’s no need to continue the review. But I will.

'It Chapter Two' offered Jessica Chastain as Beverly, while 'It' (2017) showed Sophia Lillis in the role.
Sophia Lillis played a young Beverly Marsh in ‘It’ (2017). Image by MTV International

What is really scary about It

Pennywise wasn’t the scariest part of It, no, that role belonged to the parents. Beverly’s father is by far the scariest character. He’s verbally and physically abusive, and from the way he talks to her, the audience is dreading a sexual abuse scene every time he’s on screen. That dread instills more fear in audiences than anything else could. Because in our horror movies, we can watch people get hacked into bloody pieces, but NOT THAT. You leave Beverly alone you monster, the real monster.

Eddie’s mom is nothing short of a nightmare. She is so overbearing and overprotective. When you consider his ailments and her neurosis, I’m pretty sure there’s some Munchausen by proxy going on there. Mike and Ben’s biggest issue is probably the knife-wielding bully and total psychopath “Bowers.” But we learn Bowers is such a bad guy because his father’s even worse.

Audiences left It in a somber mood, pondering the real life horrors of the world – something they might not have expected from a killer clown movie. When audiences left the theater after It Chapter Two they just thought, “What did I just watch?”

'It Chapter Two' dove further into Pennywise's demented past.
Pennywise is not a clown ‘It’ is fear itself. Image by wahyu purnawan via flickr

Lack of focus in It Chapter Two

My first thoughts when the credits rolled were that the movie was both too long, while simultaneously missing so much of the story. 27 years have passed, so in order for these adults to face their fears, first the story must establish what those fears are. It Chapter Two already had an uphill battle by focusing on the fears of 40-year-olds rather than 13-year-olds, but the movie struggled to display most of these fears in a way audiences could empathize with.

This could’ve been because the movie tried to fit in subplots for each character. And by spreading the story so thin, they didn’t give the audience enough time to get invested in any of the characters’ stories. It was much more focused. The “Loser’s Club” rallies together behind Bill’s drive to avenge his brother. In It Chapter Two, the characters literally can’t even describe why they assembled.

Bill Hader's performance was the one redeemable part of 'It Chapter Two.'
Bill Hader shines in It Chapter Two as the closeted Ritchie. commons.wikimedia

New Story Arc

It combined horror with a coming-of-age story. Which, along with the Stephen King source material made it a hit in the genre. The scares parallel the insecurities of puberty and struggles in their home-life. It’s an easily relatable and scary story. It Chapter Two was more of a political horror. I’m not saying this aspect made it worse than It, just different.

Where It was about self-empowerment and overcoming fear, It Chapter Two was about antiquated prejudice toward the LGBTQ community that lingers heavily in rural areas of America. The first scene of any movie sets up the premiss, often through symbolism. But the first scene of It Chapter Two spells out very clearly what the story is about. Two bigoted Derry men brutally attack a gay couple. Bill Hader’s Ritchie is then given a much stronger arc than Bill, Ben and Beverly, who the audience thought were the principal characters.

This is the best part of It Chapter Two, Bill Hader totally steals the show. We learn that Ritchie is a closeted homosexual, and was learning this about himself (or already knew) 27 years ago, during It (2017). Bill Hader proves once and for all that he can do anything. He’s an expert at comedy, but Ritchie’s love for Eddie results in the greatest emotional impact of the film. That was all thanks to Hader’s acting chops.

Though it’s not enough. The star-studded cast of It Chapter Two couldn’t keep up with the young actors in It. And I think in that lies the reason why. They’re young.