"IT: Chapter Two"; Cast: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Bill Skarsgard; Direction: Andy Muschietti; Rating: ** and 1/2
What happens when you have a wafer-thin story and want to stretch the narrative for nearly three hours? You would definitely land up with an incredulous plot with a subjective scheme.
This is exactly what Director Andy Muschietti has indulged in, in his latest, supernatural horror, "IT: Chapter Two", which is based on the 1986 novel "IT" by Stephen King.
Like its prequel, "Chapter Two", too is a popcorn flick built in an erratic, episodic structure with endless jump scares and chase sequences that at times work and at times feel forced. This would surely frustrate those who expect certain dynamics in drama and suspense. Nevertheless, the plot is engaging and it does quickly begin to feel like an inconsequential gauntlet that must be endured, rather than enjoyed.
The proceedings of "IT: Chapter Two" take place 27 years after the franchise's first edition, which was set in 1989 in Derry. It encapsulates lives of the members of the "Loser's Club" -- namely, Beverly Marsh (Jessica Chastain), Bill Denborough (James McAvoy), Richie Tozier (Bill Hader), Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransone), Ben Hanscom (Jay Ryan) and Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa).
They band together after Mike reminds each one of them of the promise they made way back when they were teenagers, that they would team up again if "the thing" ever came back.
It is 2016 now, and after some horrific deaths reported in Derry, Mike calls each one of them back, to finish what they started with the Pennywise the clown. Bill Skarsgard as the eponymous, shape-shifting villain Pennywise, gets more screen time and is effective in giving you the creeps.
The narrative begins on a philosophical note, telling us about memories and reminding us that "sometimes we are what we wish to forget", and that, "everyone wants a closure". The film is a sequel, so we know what is going to happen. How it will be done is what keeps us hooked.
Also, intercutting the narrative with two timelines and two different casts of characters, there is an exciting, mega-mounted finale with motivational lessons aplenty, but reaching to that point needs patience.
The sub-plots and the convoluted mumbo-jumbo rituals in the climax, though astutely mounted, result in a narrative that meanders and kills the momentum of the film.
Each character's individual story is interesting, but the film overall is like a bad dream packed with a montage of horror sequences that have been gummed together. Transitions between these sequences are far from seamless.
The editing is surely an issue that can't be overlooked. A jarring instance is when Mike is in the Library with Ben and the rest of them are in the Pub. Suddenly, Ben and Mike, too, are in the Pub. The jerky transitions make the logic weird but then you resign that the film is a potboiler, a feel-good horror drama, so ignore the pitfalls.
Also, commendable are the efforts of casting director Rich Delia, who has managed to team up actors who fit the characters with near-perfect appearances. The actors slip into their character skins with sincerity, elevating this potboiler.