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Review: It Chapter Two – “A horror epic”

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Directed by Andy Muschietti (It, Mama), It Chapter Two sees him return to child-murdering clown haven Derry alongside the young cast from his first film: Jaeden Martell (The Book of Henry), Sophia Lillis (Sharp Objects), Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things), Jack Dylan Grazer (Shazam!), Jeremy Ray Taylor (42) and Chosen Jacobs (Castle Rock).

But this time, their characters are also played in their adult versions by James McAvoy (Glass), Jessica Chastain (Crimson Peak), Bill Hader (Barry), James Ransone (Sinister), Jay Ryan (Neighbours) and Isaiah Mustafa (Horrible Bosses).

Twenty-seven years after childhood misfits gang “the losers” defeated a clown called Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård – Deadpool 2) who was terrorising and murdering kids — including Bill’s (McAvoy) little brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott – The Prodigy) — children are disappearing and turning up in pieces again in the town of Derry.

Cashing in their childhood vow to return and fight again if Pennywise were ever to return, Mike (Mustafa) summons Bill (McAvoy), Bev (Chastain), Ben (Ryan), Ritchie (Hader) and Eddie (Ransone) to come home and face their demons to defeat Pennywise once and for all.

The kid “losers” are still as great as ever and seen in flashbacks to the Summer in the first film that expands on and fills in previously unseen events and scares. Their friendship feels genuine and because of the attachment to them from the first film, we now worry twice as much for them when they are in peril.

The adult “losers” group dynamic is excellent too with Hader’s Ritchie and Ransone’s Eddie the unexpectedly hilarious — often in the face of doom — standouts, but Ryan’s now buff but still sweet sweet Ben, Chastain’s hurting emotional core Bev, Mustafa’s collective memory and conscience Mike and McAvoy’s haunted and heroic Bill all being instantly loveable.

The gang split up for a large portion of the film to retrieve individual totemic items from their childhoods that will help them fight Pennywise, which is a shame but does allow for everyone to shine in their individual stories – that also function as chilling horror set-pieces. Plus, woven into these we also get glimpses is into the birth and evolution of “that fucking clown” Pennywise (Skarsgard).

Much of Pennywise’s attacks this time around are him in other larger non-human forms, so these scenes give Skarsgard back his screentime to show how spine-chilling he can be with just that broken creepy voice, wandering eye and drool at the thought of devouring our heroes’ delicious fear.

The film is very long but it flies by, packing in as much of Stephen King’s story as possible — and even featuring a cameo from the godlike horror genius himself — but although we do see them briefly, Bill’s wife Audra (Jess Weixler – Teeth) and Bev’s husband Alvin (Stephen Bogaert – American Psycho) never get as far as Derry.

The film’s final showdown is not as strong as it could be, feeling a little silly, samey and trite and not as scary as you would hope, but It Chapter Two is blockbuster horror with huge jumps, awesome set pieces, heroes you’ll fall in love with all over again and the return of Skarsgard’s terrifying iconic villain. It Chapter Two is the Endgame of scary movies. A horror epic.

It Chapter Two is released in the UK on the 6th of September.

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