“It: Chapter 2” Review by Caroline Pope

   For the movie-goer who can handle a good jump scare, It Chapter 2 is a film you do not want to miss. Directed by Andy Muschietti, the film is simultaneously frightening and alluring. With a winning combination of quality acting, detailed set design and costumes, as well as artful cinematography, you will not want to close your eyes during this scary movie. 

   First, the award-winning cast of It Chapter 2 delivered incredible performances, with each actor bringing an authenticity and vulnerability to their character. Though the younger actors were not as present in the sequel as they were in the first film, they made their time on screen count. Sophia Lillis, who played the younger Beverly, especially stood out as a performer. As Beverly’s character is a victim of abuse, Lillis used her eyes and facial expressions to incorporate a subtle sadness to the character’s trademark confidence. James MacAvoy also thrived as the older Bill. As a character who is haunted by guilt, MacAvoy fills his performance with raw emotion and desperation as his character fights to keep the past from repeating. Bill’s character also stutters, and MacAvoy portrays the condition in a believable way, without exaggerating or being disrespectful to individuals who suffer from the disorder.  

   While many horror films rely on the use of blood, gore, and screams, It Chapter 2 is beautiful in its cinematic style. For example, the transitions between scenes were both aesthetically pleasing and engaging. In one of the first scenes, when the night sky above Ben’s house transitions into the underside of Stanley’s puzzle, the viewer feels as though they are on a theme park ride—excited and curious for what comes next. This phenomenon continues throughout the film. Even when the content is disturbing or frightening, you do not want to look away because you do not want to miss a single detail, and this film is full of detail. The filmmakers’ attention to detail is evident through the set design and costumes in the film. Living spaces belonging to the characters serve as a continuation of that character’s life, like Mike’s apartment above the library. In addition to everyday objects like dishes and clothing, Mike’s dwelling is overflowing with books, which gives the viewer a glimpse into what Mike has been up to over the last twenty-seven years. 

   Likewise, the adults’ costumes offer the viewer insight into the degree to which they have changed or stayed the same since we last saw them in the first film. Whereas Bill still wears a flannel shirt and jeans, an almost identical ensemble to his boyhood outfit, Beverly’s style transformed with her character. While the younger Beverly donned girlish dresses and rompers, the more sophisticated, grown up Beverly wears glamorous silk chemises and tailored outfits. The viewer can use Beverly’s new wardrobe as a clue when piecing together who her character is today, in comparison with who she was as a teenager. 

   Although, It Chapter 2 is not without faults. As the film is based off of a book that boasts over one thousand pages in total, It Chapter 2 stumbles over some plot points. The film alludes to details, like Pennywise’s backstory, but never elaborates, leaving the viewer feeling like they are missing out on an inside joke. As a viewer, I may have been more invested in the Loser Club’s showdown with Pennywise if I better understood why the clown was terrorizing the town. The book—written by the King of Horror, himself, Stephen King—allegedly dives deeper into details regarding why Pennywise is so intent on eating the children of Derry, Maine, and how he came to be in existence. Personally, I believe my experience with the film would have been more complete if such details were more fully explained.

   Additionally, while grotesque, some of the nightmarish effects in the film come off as more comically strange than fear-inducing. While parts of the film were definitely alarming, many of Pennywise’s illusionary antics made me feel more uncomfortable and disturbed than afraid. 

   All in all, It Chapter 2 is the perfect film to get you and your friends into the Halloween spirit. While It Chapter 2 is a ‘horror movie,’ it contains an element many films in the genre miss: heart. Muschietti, the other filmmakers, and actors created a chilling, yet beautiful, end product and you do not want to miss it!