The terrifying spectre of Pennywise the clown isn't easily scrubbed from the mind. Credit author Stephen King with that – his 1,000 page tome IT is said to have badly damaged the clown industry, and the blockbusting 2017 movie adaptation only re-affirmed those fears.
This September Pennywise returns in IT CHAPTER TWO, which adapts the second half of King's weighty door-stopper. The movie takes place 27 years after the events of the first movie, interweaving the story of the older Losers Club members with flashbacks to their younger selves.
James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain and Bill Hader are among those embodying the adult Losers, who are lured back to Derry, Maine for one final confrontation with their dreaded nemesis (portrayed once more by Bill Skarsgard).
Directed by Andy Muschietti and scripted by Gary Dauberman, IT CHAPTER TWO runs at a hefty 165 minutes long. The movie promises to pack in a heck of a lot of King mythology, including Pennywise's origins and his centuries-long legacy of terror in Derry, all of which was only teased in the first IT instalment.
Critics have tweeted their first responses to the movie, and although the consensus is somewhat mixed, they say there's plenty to admire. First up: a rave response from Collider's Erik Davis who lauds the movie's creepy atmosphere, and says it's a worthy follow-up to the first chapter.
#ITChapterTwo is a terrific companion to #ITChapterOne. Similar vibes, great ensemble chemistry w/ a nice mix of humour and horror. Part 2 plays heavier in tone, dealing w/ defeating the burden of childhood trauma, & I definitely teared up at the very end. Bill Hader steals it pic.twitter.com/bjiwtJufNQ— Erik Davis (@ErikDavis) August 21, 2019
You'll notice the shout-out to Bill Hader, there – he plays the older Richie Tozier, portrayed as a youngster to winning effect by Stranger Things' Finn Wolfhard. Critics are unanimous in their praise of Hader, who's usually associated with comic roles.
In fact, many have cited Hader as the best thing in the movie, even when the film itself is apparently veering around all over the place. Slashfilm's Chris Evangelista believes this to be the case.
#ITChapter2 has a rushed, clumsy first act & an odd lack of chemistry among the adult Losers. But it eventually finds its footing. This is a BIG movie—a go for broke horror blockbuster not afraid to make weird choices. Bill Hader steals the show. #ITMovie #ITChapterTwo pic.twitter.com/cib2slRfoq— Chris Evangelista (@cevangelista413) August 21, 2019
Cinemablend's Sean O'Connell says the movie's increased level of ambition doesn't necessarily equate to more scares. Nevertheless, he's tipping Hader for Oscar attention, something horror films rarely achieve (although the recent likes of Get Out have bucked the trend).
So, #ITChapterTwo: it's v. good, but not great. I liked it, but didn't LOVE it. First movie is a tough act to follow. TWO is gruesome, strange but rarely scary. Nails important aspects from the book, but feels overlong. Cast is aces, though, & Bill Hader SHOULD be in Oscar convo. pic.twitter.com/1KUZk5TXA1— Sean O'Connell (@Sean_OConnell) August 21, 2019
Collider critic Perri Nemiroff praises Muschietti's skill at crafting an inter-generational story of trauma and horror.
#ITChapter2 isn't as refined as the first, but it's still an excellent ensemble piece, oozing with heart & packed with extremely well-crafted set pieces. Muschietti weaves the young & adult Losers together super well, giving IT 2 a truly epic feel. (MVP: Bill Hader as Richie.) pic.twitter.com/7dXmIsd2z6— Perri Nemiroff (@PNemiroff) August 21, 2019
Moviefone journalist Drew Taylor says the movie is on course to devour the box office (no doubt in the same way Pennywise feeds on his victims).
#ItChapterTwo is a giant budget, studio-backed horror movie that’s also a fairly serious actors showcase/ensemble, with occasional flashes of brilliant imagery (like all the balloons cascading under the bridge). It’ll make more money than Warner Bros knows what to do with. pic.twitter.com/Noscq1X1j1— Drew Taylor (@DrewTailored) August 21, 2019
Critic Juan Upon a Time in Hollywood (got to love that handle) says that if the film has flaws, they stem directly from the novel.
So everything that’s awesome and imperfect in #ITChapterTwo comes straight from the novel. The horror in this one is way more brutal. A leaner adaptation would have solve the repetitive loop of the third act. Cast is great and the direction impressive. Very Good but not Great. pic.twitter.com/IHDntHprvQ— Juan Upon A TIme in Hollywood (@juanmadpelicula) August 21, 2019
We'll end with another Collider response: writer Haleigh Foutch says the movie works because, like the first instalment, we're firmly invested in the characters. Surely that's how any great horror movie works, right?
#ITChapterTwo is big and ambitious and can't *quite* handle the weight of its aspirations, but it's still a fine piece of heartfelt horror. The parts that work, work REALLY well and Bill Hader is every-bit the scene-stealing standout we all hoped he'd be.— Haleigh Foutch (@HaleighFoutch) August 21, 2019
Well, that's a smattering of critical responses, and it won't be long before you get to cast your own verdict.
Click here to book your tickets for IT CHAPTER TWO, opening in Cineworld on 6th September. Let us know @Cineworld if you think this has any chance of topping the first movie.