Seven young outcasts in Derry, Maine, are about to face their worst nightmare — an ancient, shape-shifting evil that emerges from the sewer every 27 years to prey on the town’s children. Banding together over the course of one horrifying summer, the friends must overcome their own personal fears to battle the murderous, bloodthirsty clown known as Pennywise.
It is the 2017 adaptation of Stephen King’s classic 1986 horror novel of the same name directed by Andres Muschietti. The film tells the story of seven children as they are terrorized by the eponymous being, which draws out the fears and phobias of its victims in order to disguise itself while hunting its prey. The film depicts roughly half the book, focusing on most of the childhood events of the main characters.
This version is obviously not the Tim Curry-starring made-for-TV adaptation from 1990. However, there are shadowing little clues here and there, a likeness of Tim Curry’s original costume can be glimpsed in one scene, and the famous opening scene with the paper boat from hell, seems almost identical, but Muschietti’s version feels distinct, discarding the back-and-forth timelines for a straightforwardly linear story, the grown-up portion of the story reserved for a potential sequel, wisely dispensing with the book’s bizarre pre-teen orgy, and shifting things along by 30 years or so.
Set in 1989 in fictional Derry, Maine, the story begins when a young boy named George “Georgie” Denbrough disappears after the sudden arrival of a mysterious clown named Pennywise. Georgie’s older brother, Bill, is left completely devastated by his disappearance, and after his encounter with Pennywise, he looks for the help of six other outcast friends who have had similar encounters with the clown and all of its other forms. The seven work fiercely together to find out the truth about this shapeshifting monster that they call ‘IT’ while trying to rescue Bill’s missing brother.
Once the kids realize what this creature is up to, they want to stop ‘It’ once and for all. Pennywise is one scary clown in case anyone hasn’t noticed, a creature with red greasepaint stripes that trail from his eyes to his snarled lips like bloody tears. The first time you see it in the movie’s genuinely unnerving opening, which parallel closely to King’s incredibly written novel, he’s so scary you wonder if you might ever be able to remove him from your memory. But sooner or later, the novelty wears off. Muschietti relies heavily on your run of the mill jump scares and below standard special effects, for example, ghoulish limbs twisting every-which-way and dark figures shape-shifting into malevolent ones. As I always say, the horrors you get an up-close look at are much less terrifying than those that remain unseen or glimpsed.
Still, the very convincing child cast carries the film when the scares start to feel redundant. Jeremy Ray Taylor and Sophia Lillis particularly stand out as the smart, fat kid with a never-ending crush, and the tough girl with an unpleasant secret. But all seven of the main children are well-cast and give strong performances, and seen through their eyes, Pennywise seems like a really huge threat, a childhood nightmare impossibly manifest into the real world, instead of the silly boogeyman he could so easily be.
The film stars Bill Skarsgard as IT (also known as Pennywise The Dancing Clown), Bob Gray, Jaeden Lieberher as William “Bill” Denbrough, Jeremy Ray Taylor as Ben Hanscom, Sophia Lillis as Beverly Marsh, Finn Wolfhard as Richie Tozier, Wyatt Oleff as Stanley Uris, Chosen Jacobs as Mike Hanlon, Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie Kaspbrak, and Nicholas Hamilton as Henry Bowers.
Release Date: September 8, 2017
Runtime: 2 hours, 44 minutes
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Suspense
Studio: Warner Brothers Studios
Starring: Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Wyatt Oleff
MPAA Rated: R
Directors: Andy Muschietti
Reviewed by: Sarah Hopkins
Our Rating: 4.2 /5
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