OldKingClancy posted a MOVIE REVIEW item: 4 months ago



Directed by: Andres Muschietti
Written by: Gary Dauberman
Cast: Bill Skarsgard
Studio: Warner Bros
Genre: Horror
Official Site:
Plot: We All Float Down Here


I’ve never read the original IT novel, which I guess is fine, most people’s memory of this series comes from the TV Miniseries from the 90s. But I never saw that either, not until three days before I saw this cinematic remake and I found it dated and poor with a few Tim Curry shaped bright spots keeping it watchable. So I went into this film with very little prior knowledge or expectations other than the strong word of mouth that it’s been getting lately, and with me being the sucker for a good horror that I am, I figured I’d take the chance to check it out.

Turns out, it’s pretty goddamn solid.

The film takes the first half of the novel set in Derry, Maine in the 1950s – though for this film it’s been updated to the late 1980s – where main character Bill is trying to find his missing brother Georgie who disappeared after a heavy storm eight months ago, believing that he’s been washed away into the sewers and should be in one of the outflow pipes. With reluctant help from his friends, motor-mouth Ricky, sceptic Stanley and nervous Eddie, they start searching the pipelines when they come across new kid Ben and help him patch up an injury, not long afterwards they are joined by outcast girl Beverly and token black kid Mike and bond over their shared experiences of bullying and shitty home lives, creating The Loser’s Club.

Pretty soon The Loser’s start realising that they’re all having strange, disturbing visions with one unifying factor, a demonic clown called Pennywise. Realising that Derry has a horrific death spree every 27 years, the Losers try to find a way to combat Pennywise and save the town, but before they can face the supernatural fear, they have to face the very real fear at home.

I can’t give the story too much credit since it is based on King’s original novel but I like what they’ve done by splitting the story in half, it allows this film to exist as its own creation with a coming of age theme that touched upon childhood traumas, first loves and swearing because it’s cool, while at the same time leaving room open for the more interesting aspect of the novel, the return 27 years later. It’s a rare thing to be able to have a complete film in just one half of the story but I like what they’ve done here and I think it’ll serve both films better going forward.

One thing the film absolutely nailed was the kid actors, child actors can make or break a film, especially if they’re in the lead roles, but they knocked it out of the park for most of them, due to the size of the group some of the members got sidelined, Mike most notably felt like the film forgot to give him any lines, hopefully he’ll get an extended role in the sequel as The Lightkeeper. Stanley as well felt a bit on the underutilised side, his Jewish germophobe character was a tad too clichéd but considering where his character ends up maybe that was by design. I’m not too sure on how I feel about Ben yet, on the one hand I think the kid playing him nailed the loveable, endearing aspect of the character as well as hinting at the heartbreak of Beverly clearly preferring Bill over him. But on the other hand I don’t think there was a whole lot to him, he felt like the exposition dump at times because being the new kid he hid out in the library and read up on Derry history, I’d lean more towards liking him than not but he wasn’t my favourite.

The two funniest characters were Richie and Eddie, Richie – played by Stranger Things’ Mike – was a motor-mouth asshole who took any opportunity he could to rip into his friends, usually Eddie about his mum. In the wrong hands Richie could’ve been a little asshole but he works, even after you get over the novelty of seeing Mike saying fuck they do enough to humanise Richie with his fear of clowns that keeps him from going too far. His rivalry with Eddie feels genuine because not only does it feel right that boys would rip the shit out of each other like this, but the juxtaposition of both characters, Eddie being too coddled and Richie not being coddled enough, allowed them to have some strong moments together. Eddie did verge on being too easy of a character, the hypochondriac with an overbearing mother but the kid had some nice intensity to him both for humour and for hear that allowed him to stand out without becoming too much.

Bill – played by Midnight Special’s Jaeden Lieberher - was a strong main character for the film, after Georgie goes missing he becomes near obsessed with finding him, believing that his little brother was still alive and stuck in the sewers somewhere, it’s a level of delusion that’s recognisable but coming from the guilt-ridden mind-set of a child just makes it hit even harder. The arrival of Pennywise gives Bill a focus, a real, tangible evil that must be defeated and you get the sense that he becomes so intent on beating It because he feels the need to do something to redeem his brother’s death. Lieberher captures that very real sense of need in Bill’s mannerisms but he does it in a subtle way, there’s no big speech about their duty to defeating Pennywise but it’s clear he’s the driving force of the group, even towards the third act when everyone has had enough of the danger it’s him that rallies them together again. Where his story ends with this film has me interested on where he’ll go in the sequel.

The real standout though was Beverly, played by Sophia Lillis who I hope strikes big after this flick. The lone female of the group, Beverly fits right in with the Losers due to her own bullying problem and the untrue rumours of her being a slut that float around town, at least with the Losers she doesn’t feel judged because they all share the same experiences. Lillis goes through a lot with this film and she seems to take it all in her stride, whether its being nearly drowned in a geyser of blood or fighting off a child predator father, she is pushed hard with this film but she comes out on top for how well she handles it all. I was very impressed with her work and I hope she sticks around.

While there was some secondary villains like the way too psychotic Henry Bowers and his hard-ass father, it’s Pennywise that people have come to see and Bill Skarsgard manages to live up to Curry’s performance whilst also making the role his own. I think that was the best way to go about it, comparisons were always going to be made and Skarsgard makes his Pennywise different enough where he won’t be compared too much to Curry’s role, where Curry’s Pennywise was malicious and tricky, Skarsgard make a much more intense and animated performance. Some people might be disappointed but this more wide-eyes, cackling Pennywise fir the tone of the film much better, he was a force of nature and treated the world as his stage to have fun with, it’s a very creepy performance and one that brings new life into a classic horror villain, some of what they do with him in the final act is very inventive and having seen the miniseries I’m excited to see what they do with him next.

While part of me is still interested to see Cary Fukunaga’s version – after True Detective and Beasts Of No Nation I can only imagine how much darker he would’ve made the film – I can’t deny that Andy Muschietti does a solid job with the film, it’s very intense and very creepy, wouldn’t go so far to say it was scary, I’ve seen a lot of horror movies so it takes a lot to scare me but even with the packed theatre I saw it with there wasn’t much screaming even with the jump scares. But so a horror film isn’t the scariest thing ever, I won’t judge it for that, and besides there’s enough imagery in the film that is quite unsettling and very original in it’s execution, be it set-pieces like Georgie losing his arm or the sight of the floating bodies in the cistern or smaller moments like Pennywise getting a railing through his eye or Bowers carving his name into Ben – something I wonder comes up in the sequel or not. Part of it does have to do with the larger budget than the TV movie but even then a it’s just filmed so much better and the images stick with you that much longer for how weird they get.

Where the film shines though is actually in the non-horror sections, not to take anything away from those moments – the haunted house ride near the end of the second act is a standout sequence – but what made the film for me was the kids and their interactions together. There are some surprisingly funny parts to the film that helped alleviate the tension and it came from the group busting each other’s balls, that genuine boys own camaraderie that comes from knowing no matter what you say or who you make fun of, you’ll have each other’s backs. If you didn’t believe that this group were all friends then you wouldn’t believe they would do anything to help each other, even their arguments and disagreements felt like what young teenagers would argue about and it just added to the overall feel of the group. Where they go in the sequel is going to be interesting to see when they no longer have the connection they did as youngsters.

As Stephen King adaptations go, IT is a solid entry, it might have a few issues here and there but that isn’t enough to take away from this strong opening chapter to one of King’s most infamous stories. The split chapters allows this film to stand on its own while also leaving room to grow, the kids are all great, fun when they have to be and terrified the rest of the time with Bill and Beverly being the standout pair and Skarsgard doing the iconic Pennywise justice with a new, psychotic interpretation and Muschietti delivering both intense imagery that solidifies this as a horror movie and a fun coming-of-age style to keep it as one of the more genuine genre films to come around for a while.



Other reviews of this film: KcMsterpce (5/10) , oscarxp25 (8/10) > Display all
Moviefreak2010 at 05:19 AM Sep 21

loved it

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