Well-acted throughout and full of old school scares. It fuels Stephen King’s horror class with spirit and nostalgia. You’ll be floating by the end…
After nearly eight years of development, Stephen King’s supernatural horror, It, finally made it to the big screen. Going through three-project era’s (Kajganich, Fukunaga and Muschietti), Pennywise the Dancing Clown is finally able to sink his teeth into some meaty flesh. Based on the bestselling novel (1986), It made every reader tremble in fear after each page turn. The story follows the experiences of seven children who live in Derry, Maine. But a being lurks in the town, which exploits the fears and phobias of its victims to disguise itself while hunting its prey terrorizes the children of the town every 27 years. "It" primarily appears in the form of a clown to attract its preferred prey of young children.
It was originally turned into a two-part TV mini-series (1990) and the brilliant Tim Curry played the title character. However, ABC’s mini-series missed a lot of the book’s primitive focus and was blogged down with cheap effects. Director Andy Muschietti (Mama) stays more true to King’s original story. At its core the film boasts an emotionally affecting story and is fiendishly frightening alike. What struck me were the strong performances by the young cast (Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs and Jack Dylan Grazer), who all excelled in The Loser’s Club.
Bill Skarsgård who plays Pennywise the Dancing Clown also gives us a bravura performance throughout the film. Skarsgård adds both fear and laughter onto the screen, leaving a haunting perplexity ingrained into your mind. Instead of taking place in the ‘50s, Muschietti decides to move the film to 1988 for the first part of the story. This works well throughout and never looses a beat. Behind our band of misfits, are kids, who are just trying to learn the young treasures of life. Bill (a confident Lieberher) is the leader of The Loser’s Club, who’s lost his little brother, Georgie, to “It” down the sewer drain.
Bill has a stutter problem, but continues to grow and face his fears. Wolfhard plays Richie, the funny one; Grazer is Eddie, the germaphobic one; Taylor is Ben, the chubby one; Oleff is Stanley, the Jewish one; Jacobs is Mike, the African-American one; and Lillis plays Beverly, the female of the group. Combined, we follow these kids from beginning until end. Rooting for them to kill the clown and to overcome their fears. The group is the heart of the story, as we learn that there is something more rudimentary flawed with Derry than just an evil clown. The adults of Derry are mostly absence throughout and point a greater concern to their ignorance.
Also striking, are the bullies of Derry. Their leader is Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton), is a young sociopath, who at times is more evil the Pennywise himself. Leaving The Loser’s Club to fend for themselves against incoherent parents, a gang of bullies and a shape-shifting creature who preys on their fears. Muschietti also roots back to the good ‘ole jump scares, making It a real treat in the theaters. Well crafted, beautifully shot and the spirit of pure horror at its center. It marks a fresh opening for a recently sinking summer box office. Taking home $123.4 million on its opening weekend, while it’s bound to break more records this year. Go see it in theaters as soon as you can. You’ll scream, you’ll laugh and you’ll surely float too.
It is rated R (Restricted). For violence/horror, bloody images, and for language.