There is a revival in horror films at the moment, but like any good film out in the last 5 years, they are mostly remakes or reboots. IT is jumping in on both the rise of the horror film and the rise of the remake. The big questions that comes from any film that has been made again is simply, was it worth it. The answer to that question for IT is simply, yes.
Adapted from Stephen King’s 1986 novel, IT is a film that has a great deal more to it than meets the eye. Sure there is the scary clown torturing children in a small town. But there is this whole unfair story about a group of friends that are forced into becoming adults by facing this demon, all the time without the support and lack of love from their parents.
Set in the late 1980s in the small town of Derry USA, we meet George and his brother Bill Denbrough. George goes missing after his paper boat floats down a drain. Bill tries his hardest to find him again. George is soon followed by a number of other children missing in the town. What the audience knows are these mysterious missing children aren’t mysterious; they are at the handy work of a creepy clown known as Pennywise. Bill has been trying to figure it out for a number of years what exactly happened.
With his band of misfits Richie, Eddie, Stanley, Ben and Beverly, otherwise known as “The Losers Club”, they start seeing their worst nightmares come true. Stanley sees a freaky woman from a picture hung on the wall of his Dads office and Eddie sees a person with leprosy though they look more like a zombie. But these are just manifestations of their worst nightmares all in from the shape shifting clown Pennywise. As such the losers club decide to take matters into their own hands.
The biggest notable absence from Director Andy Muschietti’s IT is the jump factor. For a horror film there’s an expectation of moments the will make you jump because you weren’t expecting something. Rather you have one or two jump moments and a whole lot of gore and freak. Whether it was a conscious decision or something that just didn’t execute on the big screen isn’t clear. That isn’t to say with the lack of jumping it isn’t as scary. IT is creepy and freaky and a down right nightmare come to life. If you didn’t already have a fear of clowns you probably will after watching this. And nothing is held back, you get to watch it in all its gore and glory.
Bill Skarsgard takes on the creepy shape-shifting clown, Pennywise. While it’s not a name you might recognise you’ll know his Dad, Stellan from the Thor films as Eric Selvig. While he is building his repertoire he’s been in Allegiant and the final TV Movie installment Ascendant and the latest Charlize Theron film Atomic Blonde.
Skargard’s portrayal of Pennywise gave a powerful performance in the creepiest of ways. He managed to not only play this demented clown with a giant mouth filled with rows and rows of sharp teeth, but also bring with it a level of humanity as well. There was this deep hatred towards children that would come through as he dropped the clown act. As he started to realise he was outnumbered, he also showed a vulnerable side at the same time as being the thing of nightmares. Being able to dribble and yell and laugh like that of a nightmare he managed to flicker in these human emotions that give it an even creepier demeanor.
On a whole other level you have this coming of age story that only ever seems to happen in an American summer. One thing you may not notice is how little you see an Adult and how little they have a part in this film. Despite it being the 1980’s and children had a little more freedom to roam the streets, there is a great lack of supervision. However when an Adult does come into scene they are filled with hatred and seem to be on a weird power trip to prove a point. The children have more ambition and drive than the adults do.
For those that have read the book by Stephen King or watched the original will remember there is more to the story than the children confronting Pennywise. So while Chapter One closes we wait for Chapter Two when the Losers Club comes back as adults and battle the demon once again.
Overall IT is once again the thing of nightmares. For those that haven’t seen the original and since had a hatred towards clowns, be prepared. This adaptation is one step freakier, creepier and a whole lot crazier than the original film from the 90s. It takes you on a journey not only about dealing with a killer clown every 27 years but also about growing up with a troubled home life and having to step up to be able to save yourself and your friends.
Review by Jay Cook