Menu

IT – A Horror Movie, That Doesn’t Clown Around

MOVIE REVIEW – Stephen King’ novel about a scary, monster-clown terrifying and killing children in an otherwise calm and run-off-the-mill American town made a sensation in the eighties. There was a rather average TV miniseries adaptation already in 1990 with an over-the-top Tim Currey, but now it’s time for a new cast to deliver a more intense level of horror with familiar, yet also a bit different Pennywise, the clown.

 

Finally! A Stephen King movie adaptation that lives breathe, and renders you comatose from lack of sleep, just as the source material did? IT is based on King’s 1986 horror novel that, at 1,489 pages, currently sits as a bookend for other, less voluminous King tomes in my library, is stubbornly and frighteningly faithful to the author’s narrative. And of course, Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgård) is as joltingly nightmarish as fans could have hoped for.

Not too wise to mess with Pennywise!

IT tells the story of seven teenagers from the era before the Internet as they play the detective and discover – and then do battle with – the poisonous, predatory Pennywise, who consumes childhood fears and is the supposed cause of Derry’s disturbing history of unnatural deaths. Led by an unhappy, stutter-afflicted Bill (Jaeden Lieberher), who has lost his little brother Georgie to the rain-swept unknown, the pint-sized posse (self-dubbed the “Losers’ Club”) includes bespectacled wisenheimer Richie (Wolfhard, of Netflix’s Kingsian homage Stranger Things), frail and asthmatic Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), orphan-by-fire Mike (Chosen Jacobs), bar mitzvah-stressed Stanley (Wyatt Oleff), chubby new kid Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), and lone girl Bev (Sophia Lillis), whose home life with her skeevy, leering father is a horror unto itself.

Fun

The best news is that the new IT is very coherent as far as the story goes, mythologically complex, and above all that: fun. Yes, fun. It’s without question one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had in a theater all year, and that’s nothing short of astonishing for a film that opens with the brutal attack and partial devouring of a cute little boy.

King’s usual theme of being young, adventurous, and more-or-less unsupervised in small-town Maine runs through many of his best stories, and It captures that same elegiac tone with surprising poignancy. The whole of the Losers’ Club, as well as the older bullies that constantly harass them (chief among them Nicholas Hamilton’s mulleted, knife-wielding Henry Bowers),  have the unmistakable ring of authenticity. Riding their battered bicycles through the woods while trash-talking one another as only pre-digital kids could, they’re misfit knights errant on an aberrant quest, not for glory, but for their safety and sanity.

No King should mess around

Maybe the success of the latest adaptation of IT can also be credited to director Andres Muschietti’s decision to exclude King from the development process. The “king” of literary horror doesn’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to killing his darlings; his disdain for Stanley Kubrick’s great adaptation of The Shining is rather well-known. What works on the page doesn’t always work so well on screen, and there is plenty of material in King’s 1,100-plus page novel that can’t — and probably shouldn’t, in the case of one notorious sewer scene — make the transition.

But IT largely succeeds thanks to a cast of incredibly talented kids and their ridiculously entertaining — and supremely profane — banter. They bring levity (and heart) to the most nail-biting and skin-crawling moments in the film, making IT more of a coming-of-age dramedy with horrific elements than an outright horror film. And that’s the way it should be. Jaeden Lieberher is the dramatic anchor of the bunch, while Finn Wolfhard and Jack Dylan Grazer steal almost every scene with their well-timed jokes. With so many kids on screen, it’d be easy for some of those voices and hilarious one-liners to get lost in all the crosstalk, but there’s something kind of masterful about the choreography of their dialogue.

That clown provides true fun

IT was the underdog of the fall, and certainly the scrappier of this year’s two Stephen King adaptations. There were several elements conspiring against it from the start: A remake of a classic horror story previously adapted with an indelible villain performance; the removal of director Cary Fukunaga, whose truly excellent script was mostly discarded (he still received screenwriting credit), and his replacement with a director whose first film (Mama) was underwhelming.

IT isn’t even just good despite all of that, and it doesn’t merely exceed (admittedly low) expectations. Muschietti’s film is genuinely wonderful, and more fun than any film that features the brutal deaths of children has any right to be. (Though it certainly earns the hell out of that R rating.) Horror remakes are a dime a dozen. But thoroughly awesome horror remakes — well, those are sort of like good Stephen King adaptations.

-BadSector-

MOVIE REVIEW - Stephen King’ novel about a scary, monster-clown terrifying and killing children in an otherwise calm and run-off-the-mill American town made a sensation in the eighties. There was a rather average TV miniseries adaptation already in 1990 with an over-the-top Tim Currey, but now it’s time for a new cast to deliver a more intense level of horror with familiar, yet also a bit different Pennywise, the clown.   Finally! A Stephen King movie adaptation that lives breathe, and renders you comatose from lack of sleep, just as the source material did? IT is based on King’s 1986…
IT isn’t even just good despite all of that, and it doesn’t merely exceed (admittedly low) expectations. Muschietti’s film is genuinely wonderful, and more fun than any film that features the brutal deaths of children has any right to be. (Though it certainly earns the hell out of that R rating.) Horror remakes are a dime a dozen. But thoroughly awesome horror remakes — well, those are sort of like good Stephen King adaptations.

IT

Directing - 8.2
Acting - 8.1
Story - 7.8
Scare-factor - 8.4
Ambiance - 8.2

8.1

EXCELLENT

IT isn’t even just good despite all of that, and it doesn’t merely exceed (admittedly low) expectations. Muschietti’s film is genuinely wonderful, and more fun than any film that features the brutal deaths of children has any right to be. (Though it certainly earns the hell out of that R rating.) Horror remakes are a dime a dozen. But thoroughly awesome horror remakes — well, those are sort of like good Stephen King adaptations.

User Rating: 4.25 ( 1 votes)

Spread the love