He’s baaa-aaack. Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the circus (don't do that, it's never safe), Pennywise is returning this year to terrorise the Loser’s Club once again. Continuing the story from the first movie, It: Chapter 2 slickly moves the action 27 years on from the first It movie as the team battle the demons of the many-faced monster as adults. Original director Andy Muschietti is back at the helm and this time he’s joined by an impressive cast of Hollywood A-listers as the grown up Losers. Jessica Chastain is Beverley, damn it!
If you’ve experienced Stephen King’s tome, you know the drill here but here’s the Cliff’s Notes version if you haven’t already read. I know you’ll pick it up straight after this feature, it’s OK. The book isn’t split as cleanly as the movies but the story takes place over two time periods. One, with the Losers as children and the other with them returning to Derry as adults to find that they didn’t rid the town of the evil monster after all. Uh, and indeed, oh.
It: Chapter 2 is out September 6 so there’s still a bit to wait but thankfully there’s a veritable clown car’s worth of information out there. Below, I take a look at the changes from the book, break down that Hollywood cast, and take an in-depth look at *that* first trailer. Here’s everything you need to know about It: Chapter Two. And don’t let the horror stop there. Once you’re finished, feel free to head over to our upcoming horror movies to see other ways to be afraid (very afraid) this year.
- It: Chapter 2 release date: September 6, 2019
- It: Chapter 2 director: Andy Muschietti
- It: Chapter 2 cast: Bill Skarsgard, Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard
- It: Chapter 2 writer: Gary Dauberman
When is the It: Chapter 2 release date?
It’s been set in stone for a while now so don’t expect the It: Chapter 2 release date of September 6, 2019 to go anywhere. This might feel like a long time to wait but given that there was actually no confirmation that there was ever going to be a follow up until after the original movie’s successful release, this is pretty good going really. For the first film, Muschietti and his team were working on a script that had originally belonged to writer and director Cary Fukunaga, and adapted it in a way that meant we only saw the story of the kids.
IT CHAPTER 2 is coming.December 4, 2018
This benefitted us as viewers as we got to enjoy a complete standalone tale, but also the film-making team as it meant that even if a sequel wasn’t given the go ahead, the first one could exist on its own bloodied feet without the, some would say necessary, sequel. Thankfully the It movie did so well, breaking records and kickstarting production on a slew of other great horror movies in Hollywood, that a sequel was greenlit. Thanks, It!
Read more: The most anticipated upcoming movies of 2019 and beyond
The It: Chapter 2 trailer is a horrifying treat for King fans
Horror trailers are usually ten a penny(wise). Ominous music.... A jump scare or ten…. The odd terrified face speedily edited into a cocktail of terror to make sure you don’t know quite what’s going on. But then there’s the It: Chapter 2 trailer. Our first moving tease of the horror to come hones in on one scene and it’s not just simply scary but also serious fan service. I’m going to trust you’ve watched the trailer above. Put your face mask on. It’s time we dissected the action and I can’t promise there won’t be spray.
Beverley’s return home is a scene directly lifted from King’s book. The seemingly adorable little old lady, Mrs Kersch, lets her in for tea and *gulp* cookies before eventually revealing her true form as one of the many faces of It. The, errr, execution here though is perfectly excruciating. Muschietti’s inventive horror means we’re constantly on the back foot along with Jessica Chastain’s Beverley. The scratching record player, the suddenly twitching inhuman figure down the hall over Bev’s shoulder, even the idea of drinking liquid from this hot grimy room feels vile. The tension on show in a mere two minutes before the reveal of Pennywise in a mere picture frame is frankly devastating. It’s also lovely proof that something truly horrible is on the way in the full movie.
While the rest of the grown up Loser’s Club are relegated to the return to regular horror fare at the end of the trailer, it’s no less exciting to see them in adult form. We get a very quick glimpse of the team reuniting for the infamous book scene in the Chinese restaurant and there’s obviously going to be a return to the sewers to try and rid Derry of its evil forever. Even the shot of Pennywise floating overhead with Up-style balloons manages to be fan service. That’s no ordinary statue he’s passing by. It’s Paul Bunyan, the giant model that comes to life in the books, complete with enormous axe.
There’s even a glimpse of a tantalising funfair and what looks suspiciously like the room that Jessica Chastain said the following about on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon "There's a scene - and someone said on set that it's the most blood that's ever been in a horror film in a scene. I can tell you the next day I was pulling blood out of my eyeballs, like, fake blood." Yum? An especially creepy moment comes courtesy of James McAvoy as Bill staring into a sewer and seeing a faceless, yellow raincoat clad Georgie, reaching out, paper boat in hand. *shiver* September seems too far away.
The It: Chapter 2 cast is the perfect mix of old and new
Given the fact that we had to wait for the movie to be greenlit, all eyes were on the decisions for the It: Chapter 2 cast. The Loser’s Club in the ‘80s (moved from the ‘50s to make things feel more current and thus a little Stranger Things) are a ridiculously charming bunch. Sophia Lillis as Beverley Marsh is a particular stand out, delivering a nuanced and sweet performance as a young girl trying to exist in a world where the monsters are both in the sewers and at home. When Jessica Chastain’s name came up for the role of the grown up Bev, fans could barely dare to dream, meaning that when she tweeted the below image of her and Lillis together in ‘the passing of the red balloon’, the horror world happily melted.
Passing of the red balloon...@ITMovieOfficial 📸 shaunwatson pic.twitter.com/9fAJRHr5a5July 18, 2018
That’s not to say that the rest of the casting decisions haven’t been excellent. The adult Bill Denborough will be played by Charles Xavier himself and, errr, Mr Tumnus, James McAvoy. And Pennywise seems to have already claimed a victim in McAvoy. Well, his thighs at least. The Scottish actor posted on Instagram that he had suffered a 'double thigh strain' as a #40yearoldclownfighter. Going by the filth on those trousers, it looks like this happened when the Losers eventually make it into the sewers...
Also, fittingly, Saturday Night Live and Barry star and writer Bill Hader is taking on the role of the trashmouth Richie Tozier who, in the book, becomes a famous radio comedian when he grows up. This feels somewhat dated so might be changed to a famous job a little more current.
The It: Chapter 2 cast has largely kept quiet since the film finished shooting but when asked about what he thought of the movie in an interview with Indiewire, Bill Hader revealed how surprised he was by just how many feels are hidden amongst the horror. "It's really great,” he said. “It's very emotional. The cast is amazing... It's really scary obviously, but I was surprised at how emotional it was. It's really a story about these people and this kind of trauma that they all went through."
IW Performance Award Winner Bill Hader talk about #ITChapter2 at IndieWire Honors: "I was surprised at how emotional it was" https://t.co/WOelVgS4bz #IWHonors pic.twitter.com/g2fvfwYRXuNovember 2, 2018
Other members of the grown up Loser’s Club include James Ransome as Eddie Kaspbrak, Isaiah Mustafa as Mike Hanlon, and Andy Bean as Stanley Uris. Finally, the casting of Van Helsing’s Teach Grant as a grown up Henry Bowers confirms that Bowers definitely doesn’t stay at the bottom of the Derry sewers for long but isn’t going to be happy with the kids who got him thrown down there. Oh, and if it’s in any doubt, Bill Skarsgard is back as Pennywise. *shudder*
Read more: The best horror movies of all time
The It: Chapter 2 poster thinks you'll float too
No one should be allowed to make balloons terrifying but here we are, looking at the It: Chapter 2 poster and realising that those horrible inflated spheres are true nightmare fuel. Maybe it's because they're red? Perhaps blue balloons wouldn't be as menacing and look like they're full of gore that will just pop? Or maybe here it's not just the balloons that are scary but the hands that are holding them. Those disembodied yet still somehow tattered mitts that we know are attached to Pennywise. Shudder.
Read more: The best It movie Easter eggs, references, and things you might have missed
There will be It: Chapter 2 book changes, but plenty we know and love
It’s never music to a reader’s ears but there will be some changes from Stephen King’s book for It: Chapter 2. While of course there has had to be some alterations for things to make sense to a 21st century audience, there also had to be some tweaks to make sure you don’t know what scares are coming - that headless library scene in the original springs to scarred mind.
For It: Chapter 2, the plot remains mostly the same as the book and time is going to be spent between the adults and the kids. The official synopsis, confirmed in November 2018, reads as follows: "Because every 27 years evil revisits the town of Derry, Maine, It: Chapter 2 brings the characters - who’ve long since gone their separate ways - back together as adults, nearly three decades after the events of the first film."
Don't worry though. This isn't all about the grown ups. The children are still vital to bringing down Pennywise in the future and their memories are key. There is, however, one big change for one of the Losers. In the book, Mike Hanlon, the only member of the group who stays behind in Derry as the others understandably drift away from the town they grew up in, becomes the town’s librarian and is writing a history of Derry. It’s this history that means the book can delve deeper into the horrific past of the town without necessarily having to have characters to take you there.
Hanlon in the book might have to live in horrorville, USA but he’s pretty together and the one that organises the reunion of the Losers to come back and fight the evil that lurks below. For It: Chapter 2, Hanlon is coping a little less well… “My idea of Mike in the second movie is quite darker from the book,” Andy Muschietti told EW. “I want to make his character the one pivotal character who brings them all together, but staying in Derry took a toll with him. I want him to be a junkie actually. A librarian junkie. When the second movie starts, he’s a wreck.”
But don’t worry, the team isn’t changing too much. The crew are clearly passionate fans of the original text, understanding that this is as much a coming-of-age tale as it is about evil clowns that pull the arms off children. There’s a heart here amidst the arterial spray. There's one scene in particular that springs to mind from the book that is absolutely vital and confirmed for the movie.
The return of the Loser’s Club to Derry as adults and settling down to a meal at a Chinese restaurant together is true King gold. While it starts out pleasantly enough with them sizing each other up after 27 years apart, things start to go very wrong and some fortune cookies suddenly don’t just have banal platitudes inside… It’s a scene that screenwriter Gary Dauberman can’t forget either. “The Jade of the Orient is such a defining and iconic scene in the book,” he explained to SlashFilm. “That was something I remember as a thing I was writing towards. It was like, ‘Okay, coming up is Jade of the Orient. That’s going to be super cool.’ It was a nice signpost to write towards which I dug.”
Also, if you’ve delved into the book or noticed the repeated shelled creature suggestions in the first movie, you’ll know about the turtle. Stay with me here but, effectively, the turtle is the representation of the good in the world of It. If Pennywise and his other many shapes is the bad, the turtle is the light that the children must use to power their quest to send him packing. It’s something hinted at by the first movie with a Lego turtle and even the Losers finding one in the water in the swimming scene. This isn’t going to stop for the sequel.
"In the book, they somehow address the turtle and say 'the turtle couldn’t help us,'" Andy Muschietti told SyFy Wire last year. "But I think in the second part, the turtle will try to help them. In the second movie, the turtle left a few clues to their childhood that they don’t remember. They have to retrieve those memories from the summer of 1989, and that’s how we jump back to 1989. The keys to defeating to Pennywise are left in the past, and as adults, they don’t remember."
Read more: The best Stephen King movies you need to see (but can't unsee)
Take a sneak peek at the movie with these It: Chapter 2 set photos
And of course, in this world of social media and directors having Instagram, there are already a few sneak peeks regarding what horror is on the way. The It: Chapter 2 set photos already officially revealed include the blood-covered Jessica Chastain just as she finishes her shooting on the project (above), and a lovely teasery shot of the Derry Town House sign (below), the hotel the adult Losers stay in when they come back. If you aren’t already following Muschietti and his sister Barbara Muschietti on Instagram, get on that for some great behind the scenes glimpses.
It's also nice to note that even Muschietti's Instagram looks like the team went back to the '80s to make the movie. The below image looks like this lot should already have grown into Chastain and co by now.
James McAvoy - or he of broken thighs as we shall henceforth refer to him - has even got in on the '80s action with some Polaroids of the cast. James, you do realise that putting them on Instagram just makes you kind of a hipster, right...?
Other set photos that have leaked include James McAvoy riding about on a bike with James Ransome on the back. That’s no ordinary bike though. Bill and a somewhat bloodied Eddie are riding Silver, Bill’s legendary bike from his youth that he’s finally grown into. It might look insignificant but this is great news for King fans. Hi ho, Silver awaaaaaaaaaaaaay!
James McAvoy spotted on the set of IT Chapter 2 ft James Ransone. All the credits and a HUGE thank to @angel_wang_ for these as always 💌 pic.twitter.com/8tFs03ncZNSeptember 11, 2018
And finally, if you’ve been missing Pennywise, here’s Bill Skarsgard off camera having a good chat with Bill Hader as Richie. The clown definitely looks like he nose what he’s talking about. Surely, like the movie itself, if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry…
Bill on set of IT Chapter 2 pic.twitter.com/y1ivVZwgnBSeptember 19, 2018
It: Chapter 2 director says it will be “scarier and more intense”
If you didn’t think it could get much more horrifying than the original, well has It: Chapter 2 director Andy Muschietti got some news for you. Giving San Diego Comic Con 2018 attendees a sneaky look at some very early footage, Muschietti revealed earlier this year that he will be making things “scarier and more intense” for the sequel. He reiterated this very quotable line at Brazil Comic Con in San Paolo at the start of December and also revealed some behind the scenes footage and an intro to the new cast members.
As shown by the trailer just focusing on one scene, it feels like Muschietti is holding tightly onto the terrifying stuff. So yeah, if that giant clown with mega teeth in the projector screen did it for you in the first movie, prepare to be very scared indeed. Plus, as you can see in the below tweet, Muschietti has suggested some very specific undergarments for your first viewing. Charmed.
A bunch of peeks at Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise looking exactly as he did before: creepy as hell! Andy Muschietti says the sequel will be “scarier and more intense” and that we should wear adult diapers to the theater. #ScareDiego @joblocomJuly 19, 2018
Muschietti is relatively new to the horror game. Before being handed King’s book and tearing it neatly in cinematic half, Muschietti was responsible for the terrors of Mama back in 2013. This was based on his own short film from 2008 and starred Jessica Chastain and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (yes, Jaime Lannister from Game of Thrones) as the foster parents of two newly orphaned young girls.
Muschietti co-wrote and directed Mama which is particularly unique in the way it deals with children in horror movies. While the majority of scary films are content to tick the creepy kids box and move on, Mama literally revolves around the relationship between two sisters and a spirit and isn’t afraid to head into some incredibly dark places. Muschietti isn’t reticent to throw in genuine peril for non adults, which is precisely what makes him so perfect for It.