The conclusion to the Losers’ Club plight with the evil entity known as Pennywise has arrived. “It: Chapter Two” doesn’t float as high as its predecessor, but it is a satisfying ending.

Set 27 years after the events of “It,” Pennywise has returned to Derry in search of young children. The members of the Losers’ Club return to Derry for one final standoff against the demonic character.

The film stars James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan and Bill Skarsgård. Andy Muschietti returns to direct.

“It” was an atmospheric horror film that was bolstered by fine performances and scares. While the same can be said for “Chapter Two,” an overly ambitious scope prevents the film from reaching the original’s level.

The ensemble cast stuns. Every performer is excellent. McAvoy, Chastain and Ryan are notable highlights, but Hader is by far the best part.

Hader is regarded as a gifted comedian, but he gives a layered performance here. He conveys extreme trauma, conflict, as well as his signature humor. It’s stunning how well Hader navigates the horror and comedic beats so seamlessly. This performance should lead to more dramatic roles.

Skarsgård is given more screen time as Pennywise. Once again, he revels in every second of it. He’s given different paths to approach the scares this time. His already menacing and sadistic demeanor is heightened, and it’s certainly a standout.

Muschietti’s direction is strengthened. The opening creates a dreadful atmosphere that paves the way to a reassembling of the Losers’ Club. The intimate character development affirms Muschietti’s strong hold of the characters.

Muschietti also directs the horror sequences with extreme skill. There’s a lingering sense of dread created in his shots that’s effective. The build and payoff usually are quite satisfying.

However, Muschietti’s ambitious direction sometimes hurts the film. At nearly three hours, “Chapter Two” feels unnecessarily overstuffed. The alarming amount of flashbacks and repetitive sequences wear the film down. One subplot from the book that’s included seemed unnecessary. Another pass in the editing room was needed.

Another distracting element comes down to poor use of deaging and ADR technology with the child versions of the Losers’ Club. Several of the young actors’ faces look artificially rubbery.

On top of this, their lines were digitally altered or added in post-production. There’s a number of times where the actors’ mouths don’t sync with what they’re saying. The pitch of the voices also is noticeably different than in the first film.

I also wasn’t a fan of the overuse of monsters and creatures. They distracted from the true terror at the film’s core.

The film ends on a satisfying note. The story structure is sometimes messy and the digital elements are a turn-off. Despite some bumps in the road, “Chapter Two” is a well-directed horror film with fine performances. Even if it pales to the first film, Muschietti and the ensemble cast shine.

“It: Chapter Two” receives 3.75 stars out of 5. “It: Chapter Two” is rated R and runs for 2 hours and 49 minutes.

Ellis is a freelance writer.

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