“Tasty, tasty, beautiful fear.”
27 years ago, IT was first brought to screens through a two-part miniseries on ABC. Though disturbing in its storytelling, the miniseries had too much theoretical red tape due to the fact that it was on a public television station. The first half of the miniseries was good, but the second part was full of flaws. It didn’t help that there were long montages of the adults getting together and “chewing the fat” or riding a bicycle for 5 minutes. The effects and on screen action rivaled that of Clash of the Titans (1980), but I will give it a pass, seeing that for the time it was released, there weren’t astounding effects. But here we are, all these years later, adding a fresh and terrifying take on this horror novel.
IT is based on the famous Stephen King story about an evil clown who comes out every 27 years in order to feed on the fears of young people. After the death of his brother Georgie, Bill, along with his friends The Losers Club, take on the clown Pennywise in order to defeat him once and for all. There are so many elements of this film that I can talk about, so before I get into the creepiness of Pennywise the clown, let’s take a look at the kids.
The kids in this movie are absolutely spot on. Each character has their own part to play, which is done so well. These young actors, throughout the first month of filming, were kept at a distance from Bill Skarsgard, who plays Pennywise. This added to the genuine terrified expressions these actors had while starring in their first scene with Pennywise. The creepiness continues throughout the movie, which leads to a scene when the kids are looking at pictures on different slides. Pennywise begins to manifest himself into these family pictures, and as the scene begins to escalate, the reactions of these children made me genuinely scared for them. But as I watched this scene, I was more impressed than anything. The young actors’ reactions to what is going on in the pictures is nothing short of terrifying. Sometimes, when an actor is young, their experience of reacting to what’s in front of them can be flawed, and at times, overdone. But with the group of youngsters in the film, their acting is on point. Especially when dealing with the evil Pennywise.
The scary clown character has been done more than a few times. So looking at that, Skarsgard’s portrayal of Pennywise could have easily come off as cliche. But from the beginning of the film, the first appearance of Pennywise is an image that will haunt your nightmares. There are small hints to Tim Curry’s original interpretation of IT, but Skarsgard, as well as the director Andy Muschietti, put their own spin on the creepy clown that makes it even more sinister.
IT had a lot riding on whether it would be a success or not. Knowing that the miniseries didn’t offer the best adaptation of King’s novel, it was important that the film version would amp up the terror. IT has come to rejuvenate horror films, a genre that seemed so stagnate in producing films about exorcisms and hauntings, and scared audiences in a whole new way. We’re all scared of something. And in being forced to face our fears in one form or another, IT is a film that we can relate to and a film that can genuinely frighten us.
Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Starring: Bill Skarsgard, Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, and Wyatt Oleff