Stephen King adaptation IT CHAPTER TWO is out now in Cineworld, and reunites the Losers Club with their nemesis Pennywise.
Here's why you need to experience the finale of the IT saga on the biggest Cineworld screen you can find...
1. Pennywise is more evil than ever
Bill Skarsgard's malevolent entity Pennywise is of course more than just a clown. That's just one of the guises he adopts to terrify kids (and, in the case of IT CHAPTER TWO, adults). Scary as he was in the first movie, he's even more malevolent now, having harboured 27 years of rage following his defeat at the hands of the Losers Club.
This results in a brilliant Skarsgard performance even more mocking, sneering and malicious than before, which ups the stakes in terms of the horror and his multifaceted transformations. One scene in particular involving the cruel taunting of the older, ruminative Richie Tozier (Bill Hader) shows how Pennywise has upped his game, and why audiences need to be on their guard for Pennywise's return.
2. The performances will win your heart
There's a bounty of strong performances in IT CHAPTER TWO, from both sides of the generational divide. Pleasingly, director Andy Muschietti and screenwriter Gary Dauberman have tinkered with the structure of King's novel to allow a prominent role for the younger Losers members – the movie flits between them and their older, more jaded selves, rather than simply handing the narrative over to the adults.
From James McAvoy's de facto leader Bill Denbrough to Jessica Chastain's haunted Beverly Marsh, the hilariously quick-witted Richie (Hader stealing the movie) to font of knowledge and town librarian Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), the older actors do a brilliant job in communicating a loss of innocence. (This is aided by Benjamin Wallfisch's score that does a superb job of switching between bittersweet regret and abrasive terror.)
Yet as before, it's the wide-eyed innocence of the kids that provide many of the most memorable moments. As with the first movie, it's a powerful reminder that the likes of Jaeden Martell, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard and Jack Dylan Grazer are naturals at fashioning funny yet deeply empathetic portrayals, which only heightens the terror of their battle with Pennywise.
3. It's packed with spooky moments
As per the novel, Pennywise has a lot more to exploit in terms of inner demons when it comes to the adult Losers. One will have seen the infamous Mrs Kersh scene in the trailer – we won't spoil it but the finale of that particular scene unleashes a particularly hideous monster that may well have you cowering behind your fingers.
And it's not the only moment: when the Losers return to Derry 27 years later to confront Pennywise, the movie unleashes a catalogue of horrors as each of the characters are targeted. From Eddie Kaspbrak's (James Ransone) hypochondria to Bev's legacy of abuse courtesy of her father, these fears manifest in ways far more hideous and plentiful than demonstrated in the first movie.
And that much-talked-about scene involving Chastain and (reportedly) the most fake blood ever seen in a movie is the kind of enjoyably nasty horror spectacle for which the big screen is made...
- Revisiting IT's 7 most nerve-shredding scenes in preparation for IT CHAPTER TWO
- IT CHAPTER TWO gets its first critical reactions
- IT CHAPTER TWO featurette brings us home to Derry
4. It concludes an ambitious story of grief, memory and trauma
Of course, the real reason why the first IT movie worked was because, beneath the monster shenanigans, it was a story of friendship and empathy. During their horrifying battle with Pennywise, the various Losers found, for the first time in their lives, a sense of solidarity and compassion that allowed them to defeat the monster.
IT CHAPTER TWO deepens this theme, showing how the nature of friendship intensifies and darkens over the decades. The Losers clearly still share a bond but must now deal with the weight of the past, examining how their own childhoods have shaped their current trajectory of crushed and thwarted dreams.
The movie fluidly and often beautifully shifts between the poles of 1989 and 2016 to create a heightened sense of drama. One particular transition reinforces the complex interweaving of the past and the present, as a scene involving the older Losers seamlessly melds back into their troubled but also joyous childhood.
The film's loyalty to these classic Stephen King themes will not only win over fans but reinforce why this is an emotional, character-driven experience first, a monster movie second.
This is reinforced by the movie's shocking opening scene, which of course we won't spoil – suffice to say, it's a reminder of the recognisable human weakness and spite on which Pennywise thrives. Such scenes bring the narrative back down to Earth in the midst of all the supernatural terror.
5. There's at least one hilarious cameo
One of IT CHAPTER TWO's greatest strengths is its mixture of horror and comedy. Even more successfully than the first film, the second instalment realises how laughter is a powerful release, even in the midst of grisly, monster-riven horror. And of course, the Losers' quirkier aspects only make us like the characters even more, re-affirming their humanity in the face of the hideous Pennywise.
Watch out for some important faces turning up in the movie, which bring big laughs without shattering the portentous build towards the final battle...
Convinced? Then click here to book your tickets for IT CHAPTER TWO, which opens in Cineworld on Friday 6th September. Don't forget about our IT and IT CHAPTER TWO double-bill that starts on 5th September.