Pennywise the Dancing Clown is back to trigger your coulrophobia in IT: Chapter 2! After 27 years in hibernation, the killer clown returns to terrorize the town of Derry, Maine. The Losers Club have grown up into dysfunctional adults with most of them ditching their hometown for a better life.

Bill Denbrough is now a horror novelist (Hello, obvious Stephen King self-insert character) dealing with a terrible case of writer’s block. Beverly Marsh co-owns a women’s clothing line with a crappy husband who’s just as bad as her abusive father. Richie Tozier is a successful stand-up comedian but is struggling with a secret. Ben Hanscom is the boss of his own architecture firm and became swole AF. The neurotic Eddie Kaspbrak becomes a senior risk assessor who’s married to a woman who eerily reminds the audience of his mother. (That’s because the same actress plays both Eddie’s mother and wife. Yikes. Oedipus complex much?) Stanley Uris becomes an accountant and refuses to acknowledge the past. Mike Hanlon is the one who remained in Derry and is now working as a librarian while figuring out a way to kill Pennywise. (You may recognize Mike’s actor, Isaiah Mustafa, best as the Old Spice guy.)

In this weakened disjointed state, can the adult Losers Club successfully defeat IT once and for all?

Director Andy Muschietti, who’s no stranger to terrifying tales like his previous hit Mama, returns at the helm for the second part. While the film is a more faithful adaptation of the Stephen King novel—even including some really heavy scenes involving hate crimes from the book—it’s not afraid to take creative liberties with the storyline and characterization for a much-needed contemporary update.

The kids reprise their roles as the OG Losers Club and, well, it’s been a few years since the first movie. Since puberty is an unpredictable beast, this resulted in several of the cast members upsizing into gangly teens. Thanks to movie magic though, the VFX crew employed digital de-aging techniques to retain their previously pint-sized appearances. Apparently, there was a dedicated budget allocated for such a huge undertaking. Huge kudos to the visual effects team for the extra work in scares and accuracy!

Speaking of accuracy, the actors portraying the adult Losers Club made sure to study the characterization, from the speech pattern to the mannerisms, of the kids. Looks like their research paid off with special mention going to Eddie’s actors looking not just related but the same being. Really uncanny! The actors who stole the spotlight for several scenes were James Ransone (known for the Sinister films) and comedian Bill Hader (acting in his very first horror).

For the late ’80s-early ’90s kids, you’ll get more than your share of nostalgia since there are a ton of flashback scenes throughout the film. One of the prominent references is a Street Fighter gaming cabinet inside an arcade, which gave us all the retro feels.

Now about ol’ chuckles himself: Pennywise’s behavior and dialogue is just as terrifying as ever. (Have you seen that meme going around of Bill Hader looking terrified of Bill Skarsgard on the set of IT: Chapter Two? That was our entire mood.) However, overexposure through marketing campaigns had made him less of a mysterious presence.

Have we mentioned that it’s almost three hours long? Some films are able to utilize that extended time well but that was not the case here. When scenes drag on, the scares are less likely to freak out the viewers as they end up zoning out. The movie could have been improved just by leaving scenes on the cutting room floor for a tighter narrative.

Admittedly, Chapter One is the stronger film in terms of the horror genre. There are some callbacks to Pennywise’s previous attacks that come across as more humorous than hair-raising. While it can get predictable, we appreciate the variety in scare tactics from the weirdly comical to a few spine-chilling moments.

Perhaps what will hit you right in the feels are these very real adult fears, which the main cast goes through. These are childhood insecurities that they kept buried for years but were somehow influencing their grown-up decisions, making them miserable. If that ain’t real life, we don’t know what is!

Rating: 8/10

IT: Chapter 2 may not be the horror movie that delivers effective scares but it’s at least a satisfying conclusion to a movie that gave us both endless childhood and adulthood anxiety. The movie features an amazing ensemble cast whom you actually give a crap about as you want them to live their best lives. The Losers Club are definitely #squadgoals whom you want to emulate IRL, especially Richie and Eddie who has the most precious friendship in the movie. And you never know, this freaky film might motivate you to finally conquer your childhood fears and kick it in the ass.