“IT” is here, Pennywise makes his big-screen debut in this film adaptation of the classic Stephen King novel. It has been twenty-seven years since Tim Curry dawned the clown make-up for the television mini-series and now we have a new adaptation of the story. A story that we all remember following a group of kids in a small town who band together as a sinister entity in the form of a clown begins killing children.
I was very interested in what this film would deliver and right off I will to say I was entertained, impressed even, by what they created in this adaptation. Despite wishing it scared me a little more than it did. Now that is not to say this film doesn’t have many tense, suspenseful, and at times mildly frightening moments. But with a lack of practical effects it was simply that, effective in creating tension as well as some creepy imagery, but not a film that gave me the chills or scared me.
Admittedly jump scares do not always work on me and I wouldn’t say they did in this one either. But they were still effective in creating some engaging moments that do entertain with their set-up, their design, and delivery. They were fun moments more than they were frightening moments. But for many people these scenes will absolutely work in catching you off guard, and land with their full impact. The suspenseful moments were worked into the story-line very well to create a smooth balance of emotion throughout the film. Which does result in a compelling story that will certainly grab your attention.
You can feel some inspiration from the book, as well as from the mini-series, but this retelling did feel like it was its own. It showed thought in the story, the characters, the effects, and settings, and from that it builds an enjoyable movie. Not something that feels like a cash grab remake, simply using the source material as a gimmick to make box-office profits. You can sense the filmmakers valued the source material but didn’t rely on it to the point of not making their own creative vision for the story and with any remake or reboot, you have to appreciate that.
The story-line was very well written. The material fit the late 80’s settings perfectly and the dialogue felt very natural to each of the characters almost like it was tailored to their personalities. Not since “Stranger Things” has a group of kid actors been so organic and natural and it was extremely valuable to this story.
You can invest in the characters. You can care about them. You want them to succeed which builds and maintains the intrigue throughout. The group of kids had different mindsets, traits and ways of thinking. They also had many varying backgrounds leading up to their friendship and this enables to group of characters to be much more personable.
There wasn’t a bad performance in this film. Finn Wolfhard was awesome and brings in one of the more comical performances I can remember from a child actor. Jaeden Lieberher brings in an understated performance that sells his character as a true leader in the making. Sophia Lillis delivers a fantastic performance and with her character being the one with the largest emotional arc, she pulls it off flawlessly. They all shared a strong chemistry with one another that effectively sells them as a group of friends and the investment you make in them pulls you into the story-line.
Bill Skarsgård in my opinion was a fantastic version of Pennywise. He was his own interpretation and it works great for creating the ominous villain for this film. Skarsgård’s mannerisms, expressions, and delivery were all just what you would want from him. He creates a demented clown, one with plenty of comical charm. Charm that makes him unpredictable and so much more impactful in this story.
The comedy in this one was surprisingly effective and very well written. The film has a fun 80’s era theme to it and the dialogue was tailored to it perfectly. The banter between the kids is very laughable and even though it does go to that angle frequently, it doesn’t wear out its welcome. The story keeps a smooth progression and weaves in tension and comedy throughout with a nice flow. In addition to giving doses of backdrop to the characters at timely moments that builds a stronger understanding of the character motives.
All of it together adds up to a fun film. It may not have been as frightening as I would have liked but it was still enjoyable and I think a majority of movie goers will be pleased with it. It has touches of 80’s horror, childhood adventure, as well as coming-of-age elements. It creates a creepy version of Pennywise from the design, creation, and performance by Skarsgård. But it never feels overloaded. It was all woven together very nicely to craft a fun, engaging movie. One that I definitely recommend checking out in theaters.