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Movie Review

He might’ve gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids.

For generations, Pennywise used the town of Derry as his personal hunting ground, haunting its sewers and stealing its children.

Only fitting, really, that Pennywise was defeated by kids too young to shave. In 1989, the so-called Losers’ Club beat the clown and forced him into an uneasy hibernation—his final one, the Club’s members longed to believe. Depriving him of the feast he’d become accustomed to every 27 years or so, the children hoped he’d starve.

But you can’t keep a bad clown down. And Pennywise is a very, very bad clown.

In 2016, when the body of a man is found in Derry—sliced and diced like stew meat—a now-adult Mike Hanlon knows that Pennywise is back. While the rest of the Losers’ Club moved away, Mike stayed behind to watch and wait. He remembers Pennywise well, and he remembers the oath that he and his friends took back in the day … to reunite if the murderous villain ever returned.

Funny thing: No one else remembers much of anything.

Besides Mike, the old members of the Losers Club are losers no more: Stuttering Bill’s a successful writer now (even if he doesn’t quite know how to nail a book ending). One-time pudgy new kid Ben now has abs and a prospering architectural firm. Wiseguy Richie’s a standup comedian, hypochondriac Eddie is an insurance whiz. Sensitive Stanley’s a wealthy accountant, and Bev and her husband seem quite comfortable, too.

Yes, they’ve all found success outside Derry and have little desire to go back. In fact, they barely remember Derry at all—especially that terrifying summer of 1989. Seems that when you leave Derry after a fight with Pennywise, you forget a lot of things. Perhaps because you want to forget so badly.

But when they get Mike’s call, they know they have to come back. Despite the terror they suddenly feel, they need to return to Derry. All but Stanley. Oh, he remembers the oath. He remembers more than most, perhaps. And maybe that’s why he slit his wrists.

And when the rest of the Club returns, its members soon have to ask a horrible question. Is Mike the only one who brought them back? Could Pennywise have designs on them, too? Unfinished business, perhaps?

For 27 years, It has waited. For 27 years, It has plotted. It lives on fear as much as blood—the terrified bleats of the human sheep it eats. But this time, It also means to taste something else: revenge.

[Note: Spoilers are contained in the following sections.]

Positive Elements

Pennywise is no run-of-the-mill monster. This thing is a nightmare factory, able to conjure up a lifetime’s worth of terrors. Facing this clown is no small matter.

But the members of the Losers’ Club (after some encouragement and maybe a well-intentioned lie or two) do summon up the courage to make good on their oath—even though they know it might well mean their deaths. In so doing, they reconnect with each other with the sort of intimacy that only life-or-death struggles can really precipitate.

But Chapter Two is, on some level, as much a metaphorical battle for our characters as it is against Derry’s favorite bogeyman. Through Pennywise’s evil machinations, for instance, Bill must grapple with the guilt and shame he feels over the death of his brother (27 years before); Ben confronts his fear of living and dying, alone; Eddie deals with the crippling anxiety he feels over almost everything. But when he freezes in a critical moment, his friends remind him of times when he has been brave (while expressing confidence that he can be courageous again—when it matters most).

Spiritual Content

While the other members of the Losers Club were making their fortunes, Mike stayed behind in Derry and did some research on the creature they know as Pennywise. Turns out, the thing had been in the Derry area long before there was a Derry, and the Native Americans who’d been in the area before had battled with it, too. They engaged in something called the Ritual of Chüd, and Mike suggests that the ritual is a good way for the Losers to go, too.

Though this ceremony doesn’t seem to petition any particular god, it does involve totems from the characters’ past, a sacred vessel and lots of chanting. It also involves “sacrifice,” Mike says—though when Ritchie jokingly suggests that Eddie might be a fitting human sacrifice, Mike tells him it’s not that sort of thing. Mike forces Bill to go on a shamanistic spirit quest of sorts, during which he sees seeing visions of the Native Americans’ battle with It from centuries ago.

In a flashback, Stanley speaks at his Bar Mitzvah in a Jewish synagogue. But as he talks, he frankly and profanely tells the elders and his family that they’ll always be disappointed in him, after which he stalks off. (A young Ritchie stands up and applauds the unexpected outburst.)

In the previous film, Bev saw the “deadlights”—perhaps the essence of It—and through that connection seems to have garnered some psychic abilities. Most notably, that involves her ability to see how each member of the Loser’s Club will die (unless they confront the monster).

Sexual Content

We see a couple of naked people, though neither scene is intended to titilate: A man steps into a bathtub (where we see his bare rear) before he commits suicide. An old woman strips off her clothes, too: We see her run through the shadows briefly before she reveals what may be her true form—a towering, hideous monstrocity with gray, swinging breasts.

The monster tells Bev that she was always her father’s “little girl,” an echo to what Bev’s own father often said to her. In context, the movie’s suggesting with these repeated lines that both the old, monsterized woman and Bev were victims of incest. In one scene, Bev’s dad tells her that she looks just like her mother; he then sprays both of whem with her mom’s perfume and brings her obviously terrified daughter into his arms—calling her his “little girl” and making her promise that that’s the way it’ll always stay. In a nightmarish segment, Bev sees her father’s face through a crack in the door—imploring her to let him in. (We learn the two had not spoken in several years, further emphasizing a potential, unimaginable breech of trust.Bev didn’t even know that her father died.) Her husband is physically abusive, too, and he accuses her (wrongly) of infidelity. When she leaves for Derry, Bev leaves her wedding ring behind.

Once in Derry, she remembers the feelings she once had for Bill—mostly based on a poem that Ben actually wrote for her. This subplot forms the basis of a romantic triangle of sorts, with Bev kissing both of her would-be beaus. (She later lands in a relationship with one of them: She’s wearing a cleavage-revealing bathing suit, and dialogue suggests they spent the night together.) Bill is, incidentally, married as well.

The movie also suggests that at least one member of the Losers’ Club is gay. Pennywise taunts him for his “secret,” and one of the character’s encounters with the monster starts, tellingly, in a closet. In a flashback to his youth, we see him harassed for supposedly making a pass at another boy: He runs away as other kids and teens shout slurs at him. Later, as both a boy and an adult, he works at carving his initials and (presumably) those of another boy on a wooden bridge.

We hear people joke about having sex with other kids’ mothers as well as references to some sort of topical cream meant to treat genital tumors. In a standup routine, Ritchie makes a couple of jokes about masturbating. We hear other references to and jokes about the male and female anatomy. Some monsters attack in ways that tap into a sense of Freudian sexual unease. (One, for instance, seems determined to stick its tongue down the throats of its victims.)

Two gay men kiss in an early scene, and as they walk in each other’s arms they discusss their future together. Until …

Violent Content

… the two men are attacked by several Derry citizens. One of the gay men eggs the attackers on, precipitating a horrific retaliation: The man is hit and kicked repeatedly (breaking, it sounds like, parts of his face) before his assailants fling him off a bridge and into a rushing river below. The beaten man, barely keeping his head above water, thinks he’s found a rescuer when he spies a clown along the side of the river. Alas, Pennywise graphically bites into the guy’s chest and gobbles up his heart.

And that’s just the beginning. With the film clocking in at 2 hours, 40 minutes, Chapter Two allows ample space for the grotesque.

Some major players in the movie have trumpeted one scene—featuring 4,500 gallons of fake blood—as literally the “bloodiest” ever made. I presume it’s when a bathroom stall floods with blood, nearly drowning one of the characters. It is, in truth, one of the tamer moments in this movie. Far more horrific are those with Pennywise biting his victims—two of whom are children. Nothing is hidden from the audience, including the bloody, gory aftermath. Even though Pennywise is known for preying on children, these two scenes in particular felt more than grotesque: They felt utterly, and unnecessarily, sadistic.

One member of the Losers’ Club slits his wrists in a bathtub. We see the bloody water and the blood dribble off his dead hands to the floor below. (Psychically, Bev feels the character’s blood drip on her face as she’s sleeping.) A man brutally beats and chokes his wife: She responds in kind, temporarily knocking him senseless (which allows her to escape).

At a Chinese restaurant, repulsive monsters crawl out of fortune cookies and attack characters. One responds by pummeling the table with a chair, smashing plates and glasses.

A man is stabbed in the face with a knife. Another man is stabbed repeatedly, but survives—pulling the blade out of his chest. Pennywise impales someone with a gigantic claw. Another person is nearly buried by cascading dirt. A guy receives a hatchet to the head. Cars crash. People fight with monsters and other people, flinging fists and feet and sometimes trying to choke them to death. A still-beating heart is plucked from one living victim’s body, then squished.

Monstrous creatures are everywhere here, attacking with murderous and frenetic intent—sometimes in the guise of trusted friends. One monster’s head burns as it laughs. A gigantic statue chases someone through a park. The lower half of a body charges characters. A disembodied head sprouts legs and attacks, nearly devouring a man’s face before seemingly being bashed to death.

People fall through holes. We see lots of decomposing corpses, many of which are reanimated. A child is shot in the head with a nail gun. Another is apparently drowned (though he had already died years earlier).

Crude or Profane Language

More than 120 f-words (sometimes paired with the word “mother”) and nearly 40 s-words. We also hear “a--,” “b--ch,” “h---,” “d--k” and “f-g”. God’s name is misused about eight times, twice with “d--n.” Jesus’ name is abused thrice.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Bev smokes, both as a child and as an adult. People drink wine and beer. Mike drugs a glass of water he gives to Bill, forcing him into a hallucinogenic state. (Mike says the dose he gave Bill was a fraction of what he took on his own dream quest). Ritchie is given, and drinks, a glass of bourbon before going on stage.

Other Negative Elements

Ritchie vomits grotesquely for the camera a couple of times. We learn that Mike stole artifacts from a Native American tribe. Characters lie.


“Swear it,” Bill tells his friends at the close of the first movie (and in the the opening of this one). “If It isn’t dead—if It comes back—we’ll come back, too.”

If only It had stayed dead.

It’s not as if Plugged In had tons of great things to say about the first chapter of this Stephen King story. It was bloody and profane and really disturbing. But it also had a creepy sense of play about it. The characters were likable and engaging. The writing was tight and energetic. Listen, I see a lot of horror films for this gig, and IT, for all its myriad problems, was made not as much to disgust its own quarry, but to entertain them, and even (courtesy of King’s original work and the screenplay penned by Christian screenwriter Gary Dauberman) to inspire. It told us that they, and we, can tackle our worst fears and our most fearsome demons with—and this will sound familiar—faith, hope and love.

Dauberman wrote the screenplay for this sequel, too. And perhaps if you squint, you can still see those themes in play. But IT Chapter Two neglects its own heart to show us the beating, bloody remains of others. The whole work feels disjointed: Extended scenes of grotesque horror seem stuffed in the works without reason or meaning, extending the movie’s overlong runtime and, ironically, undercutting its own scares. It loses its purpose under its mountains of putrid corpses. If the first chapter felt hopeful (if still horrific); this one just feels mean.

And let’s point out that Chapter Two is exponentially more foul and bloody than its predecessor. And it’s not like the first chapter was particularly tame.

In the film, Bill’s a successful writer who (like IT’s original author, some would say) doesn’t know how to end his stories. IT Chapter Two feels like the joke’s unintentional punchline—an ending that should never have been made.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

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Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range



Jessica Chastain as Beverly Marsh; James McAvoy as Bill Denbrough; Bill Hader as Richie Tozier; Isaiah Mustafa as Mike Hanlon; Jay Ryan as Ben Hanscom; James Ransone as Eddie Kaspbrak; Andy Bean as Stanley Uris; Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise; Jaeden Martell as Young Bill Denbrough; Wyatt Oleff as Young Stanley Uris; Jack Dylan Grazer as Young Eddie Kaspbrak; Finn Wolfhard as Young Richie Tozier; Sophia Lillis as Young Beverly Marsh; Chosen Jacobs as Young Mike Hanlon; Jeremy Ray Taylor as Young Ben Hanscom


Andy Muschietti ( )


Warner Bros.



Record Label



In Theaters

September 6, 2019

On Video

Year Published



Paul Asay

Content Caution

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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