Andy Muschietti returns to the director’s chair with “IT: Chapter Two,” a sequel to the 2017 eponymous horror film based on Stephen King’s 1986 novel.

27 years after the events of the first film, people are going missing in the town of Derry, Maine. Mike Hanlon, the only remaining member of The Losers Club, calls the six remaining members—Bill Denbrough, Ben Hanscom, Beverly Marsh, Eddie Kaspbrak, Richie Tozier and Stanley Uris—to defeat the evil entity behind the disappearances. The gang revisits their source of

childhood trauma to confront the insidious It, a demonic clown who can take the form of its victims’ worst fears. With the resilient power of friendship and childhood determination, The Losers Club face off against It one final time.

The adult cast consists of fitting successors to the child actors from the first film. Bill Hader steals the show as the grown-up Richie Tozier, providing consistent laughs and emotional heft with a surprisingly poignant subplot. Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy blend into the role of Beverly Marsh and Bill Denbrough seamlessly in spite of their A-list status.

Despite their recycled presence in the film, the child actors have very natural chemistry with one another. They complement the film’s innocent moments well.

However, Bill Skarsgård proves himself to be the main attraction. His aptly hammy and creepy-crawly presence in the film is a joy to watch from beginning to end. Skarsgård does not miss a beat and gives a performance Tim Curry would tip his hat to.

Some of the flaws of the first movie carry into “IT: Chapter Two.” The music is overbearing at times, going out of its way to emphasize either childhood nostalgia or ominous foreshadowing. Some peculiar editing choices feel distracting, and there are instances where it flashes back to The Losers Club as kids too often. It feels like the director was recycling outtakes from the first film into his second one.

The CGI has downgraded from the first film. Many of the computer-generated monsters look completely fake and cartoonish that it borders on laughable. It almost mirrors the cheesiness of the 1990 miniseries, and it is entertaining throughout.

There are moments in the film that could have been cut from the film, and it would not have negatively impacted the story. For example, Bill is consumed with guilt over his little brother Georgie’s death. He is hellbent on protecting another kid from the monster’s clutches—it goes about as well as you would expect. Moments like this elongate the film for an exhausting amount of time that could have been dedicated to developing the other characters.

The film balances out its clumsy execution with powerful writing that remains faithful to the Stephen King novel. There are two deaths in the movie that are well-acted, emotionally resonant and handled with respect, something the 1990 miniseries lacked.

“IT: Chapter Two” hides in the shadow of its predecessor at times, but it still delivers some well-placed scares and a slew of strong performances from its cast. While it staggers at times, it generally remains afloat as a competent successor to its record-breaking forerunner. This is an above-average horror film that is worth going back into the gray water.

Watch the trailer for “IT: Chapter Two” below.