IT CHAPTER TWO begins on a note of horror that is both terrifying and sobering.
The movie adapts the second half of Stephen King's whopping 1000-plus page novel, moving the story ahead 27 years. It all begins when the older Losers Club members, among them Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy), Bev Marsh (Jessica Chastain) and Richie Tozier (Bill Hader) are lured back to Derry, Maine for one final battle with their nemesis, Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard).
The catalyst for their reunion is the death of a young gay man named Adrian Mellon (portrayed in the movie by film-maker Xavier Dolan). When he is brutally attacked by a homophobic gang and thrown off a bridge, he's then killed by Pennywise who feasts on both his flesh and fear.
Those who've read King's book will recognise this as one of its most shocking and provocative moments. Mellon's death alerts town librarian Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), the only one of the Losers who has remained in Derry, that Pennywise has returned after his 27-year slumber.
Director Andy Muschietti says the scene's inclusion was vital – not only does it re-introduce Pennywise, it also reinforces how he thrives on complacency, hatred and ignorance, all of which are recognisably human weaknesses.
"It was very important to me because it is of relevance," he tells Variety. "I probably wouldn’t have included it if it wasn’t in the book, but it was very important for Stephen King. When he wrote it, he was talking about the evil in the human community. He was talking about how dark humans can get in a small American town.
"For me, it was important to include it because it’s something that we’re still suffering. Hate crimes are still happening. No matter how evolved we think society is going, there seems to be a winding back, especially in this day and age where these old values seem to be emerging from the darkness."
Chastain agrees, saying the scene adds further emotional texture and complexity to a story about archetypal fears.
"The reason why I think Stephen King is the king of this genre is because he writes psychological horror," she says. "The monster usually is spawned from a human. It’s inside of us. Look at Pet Sematary. Look at Misery. We can become our worst enemies sometimes. He wrote the novel IT because a hate crime was committed in his childhood town. That darkness, he wanted to explore and that’s the first scene in our film."
She continues: "It’s going to be hard to talk about this without crying. I think you need that scene because he writes about the darkness that’s under the surface. The dirt under the fingernails of these small towns or of mankind. That’s what 'It' represents. It’s the darkness of human behaviour.
"I think it was important to see Adrian’s scene and not to change it from what it is in the novel because we’re living in a time right now where it is very much a part of our culture and part of our conversation and we haven’t moved past it. So, we can’t pretend that it doesn’t still exist because it’s part of our every day."
Will IT CHAPTER TWO turn out to be that most unexpected of things: a topical killer clown movie? You don't have long until you get to find out.
Click here to book your tickets for IT CHAPTER TWO, opening in Cineworld on 6th September.