DIRECTOR: Andy Muschietti
Jeremy Ray Taylor
Jack Dylan Grazer
Jackson Robert Scott
In the Town of Derry, Maine. Local children from the area have been disappearing one by one. When a group of seven misfit and bullied locals band together, they form The Losers Club. They must try and put a stop to a horrifying monster that takes the form of a clown. The monster is known as Pennywise and he feeds on the fears of children. They must try and stop him before they too go missing and put an end to his horrific reign for another twenty-seven years.
I remember being roughly six years of age and seeing the iconic image of Tim Curry as Pennywise on TV one night. Holding balloons and standing in the middle of a lake. With an evil laugh and the point of a finger, I was immediately terrified. It wouldn't be until ten or so years later that I sat down to watch the miniseries of IT. As a teenager, it had sort of lost all that scariness that I had built up in my mind from seeing him as a kid. While I enjoyed the miniseries, it sort of fell short at that time due to the hype that I built in my head from when I was a kid.
When it was first announced that they'd be doing a big screen adaptation of Stephen King's much beloved and terrifying novel. I was pretty damn excited. I loved the idea that they were planning for two chapters. The first would handle The Losers Club and then the second chapter would detail them as adults. Just like the miniseries but with a break in between. The announcement of Cary Fukunaga as director was the icing on the cake. When he dropped out and Andy Muschietti took over the helm, I was a little concerned. Not because I disliked him as a filmmaker, but I was worried about trouble behind the scenes.
With Cary Fukunaga now replaced as the director. I was still excited to see how Andy Muschietti would tackle the source material. I remember reading a few articles stating that Cary wanted his vision for IT to be darker and more disturbing. While I would like to one day see just how dark his screenplay would have been. After seeing the new IT film adaptation. The movie is an almost perfect film for me. I couldn't think how much more Cary Fukunaga would improve on this film. After a year and a half of waiting, all that hype had paid off.
As someone who hasn't read the original source material. I can't compare this movie to Stephen King's novel. I don't know how close this movie follows the novel. Going off the movie alone, this is one of the most enjoyable experiences that I've had in a cinema in years. Not since Mad Max: Fury Road and Jurassic World have I felt so alive during a screening. Weird to say as all three movies are so wildly different and it feels odd to mention IT as an enjoyable experience due to everything being so dark within the film but that's how I felt during this story. At two hours, it never felt long for me.
IT not only works as a scary horror movie but also an excellent coming of age story. As a huge fan of another of Stephen King's movie adaptations Stand By Me. Not since that film have I been so moved by a group of kids onscreen. The entire experience of being a kid trying to make it through school, being bullied, finding your voice and also finding that group of friends that you feel like you could pass the days and weekends with, is all over this film. The movie being set in the eighties, Andy Muschietti really does capture the innocence and that time. This is filled with nostalgia.
When it comes to being a scary horror movie. For the most part, IT worked very well. Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise had big shoes to fill by following in Tim Curry's footsteps but here he has successfully done the character of Pennywise justice. I think here he's even better and surpasses Tim Curry. He has created a horror icon for an entirely new generation. It feels like he was completely consumed by the role. The film has really solid moments where the tension and suspense are built up to the breaking point. I thought the building of tension here was a lot more successful than the scenes that feature quick and loud jump scares.
The only problems that I had with IT revolved around some of the Pennywise scenes. For the most part, he is terrifying. There are a couple of scenes in the movie that are played straight that fall into almost unintentionally hilarious territory. A scene where Pennywise bursts out of a projector screen and five times his regular size and a scene where he is seen dancing drew laughs from the crowd. I think a couple of the issues that I found fall back on some less than stellar CGI. But I've been wrong before and it may have all been practical. I just felt on first viewing, these moments took me out of those scenes.
When it comes to the violence. IT will not disappoint. Gorehounds will be happy with the violence and gore on display here. Not only is this movie extremely gruesome but most of the violence that takes place is against children. I'm still shocked that a large studio didn't shy away from a lot of the carnage here. Children are shot in the head, dismembered, slashed, and beaten. There is one scene involving a sink and a geyser of blood that was the highlight here. Not since the original, A Nightmare On Elm Street has there been a blood fountain like the one in IT. Bloody goodness.
Another element of IT that I'm shocked to see tackled in a big budget studio horror film are the scenes of Beverly Marsh and her father. While never shown, the hints that her father is molesting her had me so uncomfortable. I was actually squirming in my seat during a few of their encounters. The packed audience that I saw this with was also extremely uncomfortable as you could hear people being grossed out all through the rows. I loved that this film seemed to show the entire adult population of Derry to be really unsavory characters. This felt like it only strengthened the bond between The Losers Club.
Lastly, the acting in IT is standout. I'm not going to list all the actors but all seven of The Losers Club are fantastic. I haven't seen performances from a group of young actors this fantastic since I watched Let The Right One In and its remake Let Me In. The actors playing Bowers and his group of bullies are played perfectly. I hated them as they tortured and abused The Losers Club. I've already said how much Bill owns his role as Pennywise. The entire cast of this movie will have long careers if they choose to stay this path. They are all fantastic.
DEATH TOLL: 6
BLOOD AND GORE:
- Pennywise is seen holding a severed child's arm.
- A headless and charred child chases a kid through a basement.
- Someone is stabbed in the throat with a pocket knife.
- A child's arm is bitten off.
- A child is shot in the head with a captive bolt pistol.
- Pennywise is stabbed in the face with a metal pole.
- A young girl is drenched in blood when it bursts out of her sink.
- A teenager carves the letter H into a child's stomach.
- Lot's of rotting and dead children are seen.
- A father attacks and attempts to molest his own daughter.
- A kid is repeatedly punched in the face.
- A teenager is hit in the face and head with rocks.
- A teenager is pushed down a well to his death.
- Pennywise attacks and mauls a teenager.
- A child's arm is broken when he falls through a floor.
- Pennywise bites down on a child's face, drawing lots of blood.
- A man is smacked in the head with toilet tank lid.
- A door opens to reveal a child chained up and split in half.
- A child is chased by a leper.
- A child is slashed across the stomach with a piece of metal.
You can all rest easy knowing that the new IT has lived up to the hype. Not just a beautifully made horror film but an extremely emotional coming of age story. Filled with a fantastic young cast and a career catapulting performance from Bill Skarsgård who owns his role as Pennywise the Clown. You won't be disappointed. Minus a few unintentionally silly moments of CGI that took me out of the scenes. This is pretty much close to perfect. This will go down as one of the best Stephen King adaptations to date. Can't wait for Chapter 2.