Finally, after two years, everyone's favourite (or more likely, everyone's worst nightmare) clown is back! Acting protege Bill Skarsgard is back as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, who returns to Derry, Maine, twenty-seven years after the events of the first movie to once again feast on the children of the town.
Grown up, moved away, and damaged by their past, the members of The Losers Club are drawn back to Derry by Mike Hanlon (the butcher's son) when he notices children are doing missing again. They agree to embark on once again facing their deepest fears in order to rid the world of Pennywise once and for all.
Warning: Spoilers ahead.
IT: Chapter Two has a lot to top. In the first IT movie, the stars of Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis, Jaeden Martell and Jack Dylan Grazer lit up this horror movie in a way that hasn't been seen before, giving the classic Stephen King novel the ultimate spook-tacular with heart. It was well put together, true to the novel, and perfectly crafted, so IT: Chapter Two had some big shoes to fill.
And boy did they fill it!
With a new cast of actors taking on the adult roles of the children from the first movie, Jessica Chastain once again proved her perfection as Beverly Marsh, and Bill Hader took his comedic spin into the horror movie business. James McAvoy took on the starring role of Bill Denbrough and Aussie actor Jay Ryan took chunky Ben to hunky new heights.
The whole weight of this movie was on the casting of the adult actors and their similarities to their child counterparts. Casting acting heavyweights as Hader, Chastain and McAvoy pretty much ensured acting perfection, but their take on the roles famed in the first IT was what solidified this movie as good and gave the whole film reason to live. Hader's role as funnyman Richie Tozier stole the show, especially during a final rock fight scene against Pennywise, and the unrequited love seen in every one of Ben's looks thrown Beverly's way almost made me cry with Ben and Bev's first kiss. The actors were so spot on that I honestly believed that the kids were their actual child counterparts - not an easy feat!
In talk of casting though, Bill Skarsgard continued to be the most perfect evil clown ever seen, despite the more specific use of CGI characterisations. His scenes of feeding on the children of Derry proved that Skarsgard still has what it takes, even when his body is morphed constantly.
The scenes of feeding ended up being some of the most cinematically satisfying of the whole movie, with the chase involving Bill Denbrough and a neighbourhood kid through a glass mirror maze at a carnival becoming a horror spectacular as Pennywise feeds on the child right in front of Bill. The interlocked scenes of Ben being buried alive in dirt and Beverly being drowned in blood was a well honed feat of impressive set design, and Pennywise's attack on a little girl under a darkened stadium was just as harrowing, and cemented the horror into a film that seemed more about nostalgia than anything else.
The thing is, the film is 100% nostalgia from the Stephen King book and the Tim Curry version, and honestly if you had never seen or read either of these productions you could easily sit through IT: Chapter Two and wonder, "what the fuck was that?" There are weird mutant things coming out of fortune cookies, an extremely gross looking spider/child head mash up that attacks the Losers club, and a super weird Paul Bunyan statue that attacks Richie. These scenes were WEIRD, and if you hadn't known they were coming you would have walked out of the movie feeling very uneasy.
So, definitely watch and read everything that came before this movie before you see it.
But even the subtle nostalgia is enough to keep fans feeling satisfied. Knowing that Beverly married a man who was exactly like her father, reading into Bill's terrible endings of his novels and why that came to be - the little Easter eggs of their lives come out to play, and it makes the movie way more groundbreaking. Mixing the nostalgia, perfect actors, and evil clown mayhem made IT: Chapter Two a must see horror movie for the ages.
I give it 4 out of 5 stars.
IT: Chapter Two is in Australian cinemas now.