The eagerly anticipated follow-up to the highest-grossing horror film of all time is a non-stop parade of imaginative horror set pieces. It's entertaining and proper creepy throughout, but it would've been nice if it had taken time to slow down here and there.
When the evil supernatural entity Pennywise the clown (Bill Skarsgard) re-emerges after 27 years, the gang of friends who dubbed themselves The Losers are forced to face up to their childhood demons and fulfil their oath to return to their hometown of Derry to deal with Pennywise once and for all.
With the massive success of the first film behind him, director Andy Muschietti pulls out the stops here and goes balls-to-the-wall in terms of slime, blood and crazy-weird monsters. It's encouraging to see a major studio really invest in a big horror film aimed at grown-ups, and the scale and staging of the innumerable horror set pieces really is something to behold.
Despite the adult Losers being a mixture of big names (James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain), and emerging stars (Kiwi actor Jay Ryan, Isaiah Mustafa from the Old Spice commercials), the chemistry between the leads is tangible and fun. Bill Hader (Barry) is the film's secret weapon as the relentlessly droll Richie, with James Ransone (The Wire) also doing great work as the neurotic Eddie.
Ryan, long confined to television roles, seems very much at home on the big screen, displaying a degree of movie star moxie that bodes well for his cinematic fortunes going forward.
However, perhaps ironically for a film almost three hours in length, this feels a little rushed. The set pieces come thick and fast, and the brief moments of quiet left me coveting more downtime with the cast to allow for a sense of dread to build up more organically.
As it stands, the horror is constantly being hurled in the audience's faces. Which results in a fun movie-going experience, but one not as lasting as it might have been.
Bill Skarsgard, James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain
R16 (Graphic violence, offensive language & cruelty)
A visually ambitious horror film for grown-ups that succeeds more in its individual moments than as a whole.