“Nothing lasts forever” is a line repeated throughout “It Chapter Two,” but the second act of the film will have viewers questioning this, as formulaic scenes and repetitive scares drag out what could have been an enjoyable conclusion to the adaptation of Stephen King’s beloved novel.
“It Chapter Two” is a mixed bag in almost every aspect, with the acting being the only constant, as performances range from solid at the minimum (like Jay Ryan as Ben Hanscom) to scene stealing (like Bill Hader as Richie Tozier and Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise).
These performances can’t fix glaring issues in the script, though. When Mike Hanlon (played by Isaiah Mustafa, formerly known for bizarre, hilarious Old Spice commercials) calls back the Losers to their hometown of Derry after 27 years to once again confront Pennywise, he informs them they must each gather a token from their past in order to perform a ritual that will allow them to defeat the evil entity disguised as a killer clown.
Each of the Losers separates to scour the town for a childhood item, with each finding triggering both a memory of childhood trauma and an encounter with Pennywise.
This is preceded by a long conversation over dinner at a Chinese restaurant, as the reunited friends catch up on lost time, each learning what they now do; Bill is a screenwriter, Beverly is a fashion designer, Richie is a comedian, Ben is an architect, Eddie is a chauffeur and Mike is Derry’s historian (Stanley never arrives to his hometown). This scene serves as a display for the potential of “It Chapter Two,” showing each of these characters are more compelling together, as they throw both flattery and verbal jabs at each other over a multi-course meal.
Each character then breaks off on their own in what ends up being a series of scenes that repeats each of their hunts, with each one having a diminishing return in both scares and character development. What is meant to make them grapple with the suppressed wounds of their youth reveals nothing that was not originally covered in 2017’s “It.”
Eddie once again comes face-to-face with the leper from his childhood, reenacting a similar encounter he had outside the house on Neibolt Street. The only difference is this time an apparition of his mom is there, and by the end the audience still knows he is terrified of sickness and his overbearing mother.
Once this monotonous slog of events is finished, the Losers reunite to perform the vaguely explained ritual, (spoiler alert) only for it to be an ill-formed plan by Mike that was essentially a Hail Mary.
The third act diverges into an action scene that finds them running in circles underground with a plan to defeat Pennywise that is even vaguer than the botched ritual. Before this, the Losers encounter a myriad of conjurings in the house on Neibolt Street, once again showing the charisma and wit the group offers when together that is placed sparsely throughout “It Chapter Two.”
The only redeeming quality during these horror set pieces — besides the actors — is the film’s budget, as it’s used effectively on creatures ranging from scaled-down monsters crawling out of fortune cookies to Pennywise’s transformations when he goes for a kill.
“It Chapter Two” is nowhere near the conclusion some fans may aspect, as it offers an equal amount of scares, laughs and frustrating moments. The nearly three-hour runtime may feel laborious at times, but it’s caused by repetition, not the film’s actual duration.