Based on Stephen King’s terrifying novel, IT finally gets the big screen treatment the classic story always deserved. Sure we did get a 1990 Miniseries with Tim Curry giving a creepy performance as Pennywise the Clown, but the project was quite tame (considering it was network television) and has not aged well at all over time. This new take is the exact opposite of the previous version having a timeless feel since IT is set in the 1980s and is anything, but safe with director Andy Muschietti taking full of advantage of the R rating and the nostalgic setting.
IT finds our lovable Losers’ Club living in the little Maine town of Derry in 1988. The town seems normal, but is home to an evil entity that feeds on the residents and especially the children. After a terrible incident on a rainy day in the fall, our group of foul-mouthed middle schoolers find themselves being tormented by an evil presence that knows exactly what you’re afraid of. The youngsters set out to find out what is behind the terror while trying not to fall victim to IT.
If you’re thinking IT is just a one note horror film looking to play off your fear of clowns, you are sorely mistaken. The movie is definitely intense, gory and has many affective moments with children in peril, but this film is much more than just a fright fest with Pennywise the Clown. It has an intriguing mystery angle to the narrative as to what is behind the darkness that has plagued this small community. There are plenty of scares, but IT keeps you locked in as the Losers’ Club unravels what goes bump in the night.
Another surprising aspect of the film is the amount of humor and heart thanks to the film’s dynamite cast. For a group as big as the Losers, you would think some players in the group would be pushed aside, but all the kids get their moments in IT. The standouts include Strangers Things star Finn Wolfhard as foul-mouthed Richie, Jeremy Ray Taylor as the sensitive new kid Ben and Sophia Lillis as the lone girl of the group Beverly Marsh. Lillis is especially strong who looks like the kid version Amy Adams and seems to have the same acting chops as the famous red-head she resembles.
The kids of the Losers’ Club maybe the driving force of IT, but everyone knows in a horror film you need a menacing villain and this movie has an instant horror icon that is sure to cause plenty of new nightmares. Bill Skarsgård is a total creep in the best way possible as Pennywise the Clown. From his devil eyes to his smile full of sharp teeth, Skarsgård presents a foe that will not do any favors for the clown community. Pennywise is a new face of fear that will have the audience squirming in their seats as chills run up their spines from looking into those evil clown eyes. IT is a rollercoaster ride of terror that will leave you wanting more of the losers and the killer clown looking to make everyone float in this fun and frightening experience.
Overall, I give IT 3.25 out of 4 stars.
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