When I heard they were making an “It” movie…I thought this would be a bad idea. It is a decent sized novel. Steven King horror novels have a pretty painful track record on film. and tended to find more success in the genre of the TV Mini-series. And we already had an It mini-series back in 1990. Tim Curry pretty much defined the look of Pennywise in that series.
So, to say I went in with low expectations is an understatement.
It is the tale of a group of friends in the town of Derry who learn of an evil force in their town. Derry has a sordid history, and grownups and children alike just disappear. After Bill’s younger brother Georgie disappears while playing in the rain, he becomes obsessed with discovering what happened to Georgie. As he and his friends have frightening encounters with a demonic clown, they band together to try and stop it.
Is it a scary movie? Yeah, it delivers some solid scares along with a real creepy vibe. The new design of Pennywise is brilliantly unnerving. Add to that a bone chilling performance by actor Bill Skarsgård. It is a visually rich fright-fest.
But what really makes It highly effective? It’s kids. These kids are a solid set of actors who can create sympathy, frustration and inspiration. When Bill delivers a speech about why they need to enter the creepy house? You kind of want to enter the house with him. Richie provides a whole lot of comic relief (played by Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard) who constantly makes bad sex jokes and raises his hand for high fives that never arrive. Sophia Lillis imbues Bev with a kindness that makes it clear why the boys start to have a crush on her. These kids have some rotten lots in lives. Overbearing parents, abusive parents…and bullies. Vicious bullies.
It is not really about stopping a monster clown. It is about overcoming childhood fears, finding strength and help in your friends. And simply growing up.
It manages to be one of those rare things… a really good Stephen King horror movie.
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