It Chapter Two is set 27 years after the first installment; It Chapter One. All the child actors from The Losers Club you loved are now grown up and shockingly successful. They own a high-end closet company, is a world-renowned architect, is a bestselling author who has had books optioned for movies, is a successful stand-up comedian, and is a hometown librarian; they are not losers anymore. While Bill Hader and Jessica Chastain lead the adult cast there are plenty of flashbacks to the wonderful Sophia Lillie, Finn Wolfhard, and Jeremy Ray Taylor.
The flashbacks help tie Chapter Two back to Chapter One. They also further explore 1989 to give the characters more depth than the first It explored. Meanwhile back in 2016, all of the Losers that left Derby struggle to remember everything that happened during the summer of '89 and the audience gets to join them as they gain their memories back.
The movie primarily relies on jump scares to terrify the audience. It is easy to anticipate roughly when each scare will come, but the exact timing is hard to predict and will keep you on the edge of your seat during the most terrifying scenes. Bill Skarsgård remains as terrifying as ever as Pennywise. The unhinged jaw and endless teeth are back! New this time is a larger budget to make more CGI monsters. Many of these are cartoonish and bring out choruses of laughter. Many times, the monsters felt like a Family Guy-esque random combination of things; a crying baby head on an insect or a severed head sprouting a dozen spider legs. The first movie did much more with much less.
Chapter Two not only has more monsters, but it also has a much longer running time. It clocks in at a bladder busting 169 minutes; this movie takes forever. There is setup on top of setup. The cast isn't united until an hour into the movie. Flashbacks can be fun, but a separate movie could have been made with the new material from the 1989 timeline. I would probably have preferred that movie as the child cast is more endearing and interesting than the adults. The adults seem very inept at times where their younger selves would have prevailed more easily.
I am not fully familiar with Stephen King's novel It. I do know that after the kids defeat Pennywise, they have an orgy. That did not make it into either movie. There is a scene where an out of town homosexual man is beaten nearly to death by some Derry locals that makes the movie. He is attending a carnival with his partner who grew up in Derry when he agitates the town thugs. The victim eventually becomes one of Pennywise's first 2016 victims. That is the only tie that this ten-minute opening scene has to the rest of the movie. This scene serves no purpose and is violent and gruesome in a way that does not benefit the movie. It isn't even a good social commentary; it is just a waste of the audience's time and relies on an over-used trope.
It Chapter One broke the box office record for an R-rated movie. Someone decided to give the team more money for the sequel as a result of Chapter One's success. I doubt it will pay off as successfully as the first chapter. The movie is also too long. The scare effects are less impactful. There is less psychological terror than in chapter one. The audience is constantly reminded that Pennywise feeds off his victim's fears through explanatory dialog because otherwise, we would forget. The points in the movie where the entire auditorium broke into laughter didn't seem intentional. We all laughed when scare gimmicks failed. That isn't the mark of a good horror movie. The adult cast was fine, but having them juxtaposed with their child counterparts, they feel hollow.
I am continuing to get an education in horror films. Psychological horror seems to be my preferred genre, but there are ways to incorporate that into slashers and jump scare heavy movies. It Chapter One did that well, but Chapter Two almost entirely leaves it out. Fortunately, Chapter One is a complete package; nothing is compelling you to watch the second movie. Unless you love horror, I would skip this movie.