The first film was one of the most-polished horrors in recent memory – but the sequel will probably boast the slightly unwanted tag of being tediously long.

Because – despite this still being well above average for movies in the genre – it’s far too bloated with director Andy Muschietti undoing some of his good work from the original by losing a bit of control this time around.

And the younger kids are more enjoyable than their grown up counterparts – it’s as simple as that.

But there’s still much to enjoy here with a controversial opening scene, a couple of terrifying deaths (again like with Bill’s brother in the first film, there’s a handful of shocking child demises this time round too) – and a generally satisfying conclusion to Stephen King’s two-parter.

Set twenty-seven years after their first encounter with the terrifying clown-being Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), a devastating phone call brings back the now grown-up Losers Club – Bill (James McAvoy), Beverly (Jessica Chastain), Richie (Bill Hader), Eddie (James Ransone), Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), Stan (Andy Bean), and now fit and muscular Ben (Jay Ryan).

The child actors from the 2017 film – including Jaeden Martell, Sophia Lillis and Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard – are all seen prominently in flashbacks, as the now adult seven-strong group have to face their fears when Pennywise re-emerges in Derry, Maine – and Mike reveals details of his origins that could bring him down via an ancient ritual.

But despite a noteworthy camaraderie between the fully-fledged characters – and a few jump-out-of-your-seat moments – this can’t help but feel it’s missing the X-factor the first film had.

At points it’s a bit messy, transitions into more of a thriller than a horror half way through – and does have some unintentionally funny computer-generated special effects.

But Saturday Night Live alumni Bill Hader (Inside/Out and Trainwreck) steals the show by adding the comedic relief to pull it through its more incoherent moments – and it does all get nicely tied up by the end.

But there is an undeniable feeling of it going out with a slight whimper more than a bang, despite this still being ‘king’ when it comes to recent horrors – if you add both parts together.

There was just a bit too much clowning about this time round.

ESP Rating: 3.5/5

Gavin Miller

Cast: James Mcavoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Bill Skarsgard, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Isaiah Mustafa, Andy Bean, Jaeden Martell, Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Chosen Jacobs, Nicholas Hamilton, Teach Grant & Joan Gregson

Running Time: 2 Hrs 49 Mins

Director: Andy Muschietti

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