Entertainment

Movie review: ‘It Chapter 2’: Blood and scares galore in fun (but long) horror sequel

Parents need to know that "It Chapter Two" is the follow-up to the hugely successful "It" (2017); both films are based on Stephen King's novel. This one – which is more centered on adults than kids – is very long and less scary than the first, but it's definitely entertaining, with great characters and true teamwork. Violence/horror is very strong, with a shocking hate crime (bullies beat up a gay couple), a man abusing his wife (she hits back), and a character dying via suicide, as well as large amounts of blood and terrifying monster attacks. Children are skewered by oversized teeth, characters are stabbed with knives, and a gun is used in a scary fantasy scene. Language is also heavy, with multiple uses of "f--k," "s--t," and more. Characters kiss, and there's some sex-related talk. Adult characters drink socially, and smoking (including by a teen) is shown. A brief "drug trip" sequence involves a hallucinogenic root. Bill Skarsg–rd returns as Pennywise; Isaiah Mustafa, James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, and Bill Hader co-star.

WHAT'S THE STORY?

Twenty-seven years have passed since the events of "It," and there's evidence of Pennywise's return. So in "It Chapter Two," Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), who has stayed in Derry, Maine, calls his old friends to make good on their pact. Five of them – Bill (James McAvoy), Bev (Jessica Chastain), Richie (Bill Hader), Eddie (James Ransone), and Ben (Jay Ryan) – show up, though they don't remember much of what happened back in 1989 and aren't thrilled to discover that they're meant to risk their lives again. Mike tells them that they must find "tokens" from that summer, important objects to be used in a ritual to send Pennywise (Bill Skarsg–rd) away forever. As memories come flooding back, and as the evil clown's attacks become fiercer, it begins to look as if they might not make it – unless they can stick together.

IS IT ANY GOOD?

This nearly three-hour sequel has well-rounded, appealing characters and even some laughs, but it lacks the nerve-rattling scares and appealing simplicity of its 2017 predecessor. "It Chapter Two" stumbles a bit at the start; it doesn't draw clear lines connecting the younger actors and the older ones, and aside from the spot-on casting of Hader and Ransone and the fact that Chastain is the only woman, it takes a little time to get everyone straight. But then the long sequences of reuniting, balking at danger, and experiencing flashbacks and Pennywise attacks actually succeed at making our lovable Losers come together more like a family.

Teamwork is important here: Every time the group splits up, they grow weaker against Pennywise's scares. And even though Hader steals nearly every scene he's in (just as his younger counterpart, Finn Wolfhard, did in "It"), and his juvenile bickering with Ransone is hilarious, each member of the group becomes equally important. The horrors here seem more likely to cause shocked laughter than screams, perhaps because of the more complex adult targets, and "It Chapter Two" is viscerally a teeny bit less satisfying than its predecessor. But in the end, the characters win the day, and they most certainly turn into folks you'd want on your side when the clowns come creeping in the dark.

RATING AND CONTENT

Recommended for ages 15 and older

Quality: 4 out of 5

Positive messages: 2 out of 5

Positive role models: 1 out of 5

Violence: 4 out of 5

Sex: 1 out of 5

Language: 4 out of 5

Drinking, drugs, and smoking: 2 out of 5

Consumerism: 1 out of 5

MOVIE DETAILS

In theaters: September 6, 2019

Director: Andres Muschietti

Studio: New Line Cinema

Genre: Horror

Run time: 169 minutes

MPAA rating: R

Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at www.commonsense.org.

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