Directed by: Andy Muschitti
Starring: Bill Skarsgard, Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard
When I was maybe eight or nine years old, I watched the IT TV Miniseries that was on ABC, showing on Sci-fi channel, in its very long five-hour (with commercials) runtime. At the time I found it to be extremely intense, especially with the school bullies and the supernatural angle that my brain just feasted on giving me nightmares. Tim Curry, completely unrecognizable in the role, was terrifying and had me looking away from the screen as my sister kept saying “don’t look away!”. For its time it was one of those pieces of media that stayed with a whole generation.
Now a days, it’s a quite bad and laughable attempt at the story from Stephen King. Curry’s performance is still masterful and is a blast to watch, but outside some of the child acting, it’s a wash at telling a much more mature story. While it still has a lot of people saying it left a massive impact on their childhood it’s a series that’s been blasted by nostalgia and still kept on its pedestal. I wonder if this is why the original Exorcist is kept on its pedestal since it doesn’t hold up to modern audiences who didn’t grow up with it. Well to each their own.
“You’ll die if you try.”
The main plot of IT revolves around seven coming of age kids, in the town of Derry, Maine. Everything is fine until an evil monster named Pennywise the Dancing Clown horrifically kills Bill’s brother. What ensues is basically take Stand By Me, The Goonies and a killer-shape-shifting clown, blend them together to get this fun and exciting film.
I’ve been following the production for this adaptation for nearly ten years now, and around four years ago I finally said, “I’ll believe it when I see it”. Well its time for me to eat my shoe, cause damn not only did it come out, not only is it a good adaptation, but its also a damn good film to boot. I recently read around one third of the book over the summer, (don’t blame me for not finishing it, its over 1,100 pages!) and this is truly one of the better Stephen King adaptations to come along. I would now like to thank Warner Bros for taking the time to put on the special gloves when it came to this adaptation and the trailer that were released in not showing too much.
But look at me praising the film before I’ve even had a chance to state why! For starters, the cast is fantastic with their acting and performances. I did a little research before seeing the film and found that the cast of the Losers Club were all friends in real life while making the film and boy does it show it. They all talk with the confidence of talking with your friends in real life and make jokes that are appropriate. Even the swearing, which, and lets all be honest here, is really accurate to how middle schoolers actually talk while in school. Or at least it was when I was growing up! Bill Skarsgard’s performance as Pennywise is great, with him being utilized just enough to always have you thinking about when he’ll show up next to make you feel unnerved. If I had only one complaint with him, it’s that his performance isn’t as memorable or as charismatic as Tim Curry’s. Though, to be honest I’m curious to see whom the public will say as the winner and who will be remembered for the next twenty-seven years.
I have heard some people’s complaints with the film being a “one big spook house” with jump-scares and some silly scares, but I really thought it worked in how Pennywise would try and seriously harm the children, psychologically. I mean everyone can watch this and go, oh well this is silly, but if you were in that situation, and something was trying to kill you, I would think that would haunt you for the rest of your life. The film also has a great level of balance with how much humor there is in here to keep the tone of the film not too heavy or dark. As a result I never found myself too scared, except when I needed to be which was during one particular sequence that I loved, but was not a pleasant experience. Sorry if I’m trying to be vague, since I really want people to experience this for themselves.
Ok fine I have to discuss a few negatives and its all mostly at the feet of Stephen King and his story tropes that isn’t the films fault, but comes pre-loaded with namely, the killer bullies. The whole time, they are almost actively trying to also kill these kids and the entire time I’m thinking “ok so what happens if you do kill one of em. How you gonna out run that?” it was just a moment that took me out of the film only due to Kings’ original story that was being adapted. It really is the weakest fault in the whole film.
Walking out of the film, I was floating on air with how much I enjoyed the film. With a runtime of nearly two and a half hours, it never feels long, and in fact could have been longer. This is a film that I personally can’t wait to see again in the theatre and am actively trying to find the time to make it out there. For an R-Rated adaptation, that fully uses the tools at hand, it’s a master class on how to do Kings’ writing justice. I’m fully looking at you Dark Tower, and Sony who royally screwed that up, good job ya idiots! But I digress, this fully deserves your time and money, and you should go, after all, once you’re down here with us, you’ll float too.