With Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker kicking up one hell of a buzz ahead of its upcoming release, a very different joker has scuttled back into cinemas in the form of It: Chapter Two.

It’s the sequel and concluding part to the smash-hit film from a couple of years ago, which much like Pennywise/It, the murderous clown at the heart of the film, has been a real box office attraction during its brief release, to date.

However, while audiences have been rushing back to see what good ol’ child-killing Pennywise has been up to (Cert 16, 169 mins), reviews haven’t been quite as enamoured of It, second time round, with a more derivative tale at the film’s heart.

As the direct sequel to the earlier film, It Two concerns itself with returning to the fictional town of Derry, Maine.

That’s where Pennywise/It (the ancient creature that usually appears in the guise of a clown), has resurfaced to resume a brief but bloodthirsty rampage, as It does every quarter century or so before hibernating again.

Cue the return of ‘The Losers’ Club’ – the plucky kids at the heart of the first film, now grown up and scattered to the winds as a group of very different adults, summoned back to Derry by the lone member who never left town.

It’s an impressive ensemble cast, including the likes of James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain and Bill Hader, who admittedly do indeed have something of a spark between them.

These ‘Losers’ aren’t exactly a radical group of ghostbusters when they meet up; their memories are lost in a fugue of forgetfulness, with their literal life-or-death childhood encounters with It seeming the stuff of nightmares, rather than a clear and present danger.

However, with It back on the prowl and delighted to have lured its earlier targets back to town as adults, it’s not long before It starts a killing spree again, promoting the remaining Losers to try to stop It, once and for all …

It Two does a great job of reestablishing the feeling and lore of the first film, with a great cast, and Bill Skarsgard, as Pennywise/It, revelling again in his sinister role.

However, sometimes less is more, and in ramping up its occasional gore and monster quota, with just a dash of gratuitously distasteful cruelty, the end result is a generally satisfying conclusion, but not quite the more insidious fairground attraction it might have been.

  • Verdict: 7/10