Cert 15 mins 169 Stars 4

Pennywise the demon killer clown returns with top dollar thrills in this stomach-churning supernatural sequel which is guaranteed to be the horror blockbuster of the year.

Full of strong character work, crowd-pleasing humour and eye-watering rip-your-throat-out terror, as great performances power a dark and emotional narrative which erupt into a psychotic trippy nightmare.

Based on Stephen King’s 1986 novel, it’s set in 2016, 27 years after the events of Chapter 1, and Pennywise has returned to torment the now adult members of the self-styled Losers Club, who gather once more in their small home town of Derry.

The gang are now played by stars such as James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain and Bill Hader, with the latter delighting in the opportunity for caustic banter, and stealing his every scene.

Their chemistry generates a sense of shared experience and delivers a credible emotional weight to anchor the knowingly over-the-top action.

And sporting sharp rabbit teeth and a deliciously insane giggle, Swedish actor Bill Skarsgard’s brings a magnificent malevolence to his performance as Pennywise.

Plus having adults as the focus of the story allows the filmmakers to really push the button on the violence and gore, much more than could be done in the first film, and this is all the better for it.

A canny mix of CGI effects and physical props such as human-headed spiders and bleeding bathtubs populate a landscape of dirty syringes, sewers, spooky houses and fairgrounds.

However once again real violence such as domestic abuse is more chilling than the supernatural, plus there’s a human psychopath on the loose the Loser’s Club must also contend with.

The running time is used to do justice to King’s lengthy novel, and is full of madness, memory, guilt and trauma, and while definitely not for the squeamish, this is also a touching lament for lost friends and the camaraderie of childhood.

Don’t worry if you missed or have forgotten 2017’s multi-million pound smash first chapter, as the original young cast reprise their roles in so many flashbacks this is practically a standalone film. And you’re braver than me if you dare to watch it alone.