Image via Daily Express
Released September 8, 2017
Directed by Andy Muschietti (Mama)
Produced by Roy Lee (The Ring, Godzilla), Dan Lin (The Lego Movie, Gangster Squad), Seth Grahame-Smith (Dark Shadows, The Lego Batman Movie), David Katzenberg (Survivor, The Goldbergs), Barbara Muschietti (Mama)
Based on It by Stephen King (The Shining, Misery, The Green Mile)
Cinematography by Chung-hoon Chung (Stoker)
Music by Benjamin Wallfisch (Annabelle: Creation)
Edited by Jason Ballantine (The Great Gatsby, Mad Max: Fury Road)
Starring Jaeden Lieberher (St. Vincent, Playing it Cool), Bill Skarsgard (Atomic Blonde, The Divergent Series: Allegiant), Finn Wolfhard(Stranger Things), Sophia Lillis(A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Jack Dylan Grazer(Tales of Halloween), Wyatt Oleff(Guardians of the Galaxy), Chosen Jacobs(Hawaii Five-O), Jeremy Ray Taylor (Ant Man), Nicholas Hamilton (Captain Fantastic)
It was a highly anticipated film for this year and delivered splendidly. Having not read the book, I had to rely upon my memory of the mini-series of It from 1990 with Tim Curry frolicking and dancing around like a mad man dressed up as a ridiculously hilarious clown. Of the things I recall, I remember rather enjoying the first half of the series that focused on the children conquering their fears. The cast of children included Seth Green playing the role of Richie, so at least some of the little known cast enjoyed success afterward. I’ll leave out some of my thoughts for the second half of the series for when It: Chapter Two is released next year!
Before its release, It faced major questions. Would the kids be able to hold our attention without the help of Pennywise’s presence? Would It live up to the hype and expectations set by fans of the mini-series? Above all concerns of the film, most of the questions revolved around one character: Pennywise the Dancing Clown. For the little known Bill Skarsgard, how he would match up to Tim Curry’s rendition of the villain was at the forefront of my mind, as well as the millions who have seen the film. I’ll spill the beans for the few that haven’t seen the movie – he delivered in a big way.
Set in Derry, Maine, the story revolves around the lives of seven children who are affectionately known as the “Losers’ Club.” Billy (Lieberher), the leader of the club, loses his little brother Georgie early in the film and refuses to believe that Georgie got lost while floating his toy boat during a heavy rain. Despite his father’s chiding, Billy refuses to give up on finding his brother and recruits the help of his friends Eddie (Grazer), Richie (Wolfhard), and Stanley (Oleff) to aid him in his search for answers. Along the way, the group befriends three others during their adventures: Beverly (Lillis), Michael (Jacobs), and Ben (Taylor).
My Two Cents:
As a fan of horror films, It provided plenty of fodder, but the film wasn’t at all like a B-rated, horror film; it had variety. Each character in the story had screen time to himself to allow for character development and none of the character’s stories seemed forced. There were also moments of bliss among the seven losers as they were able to enjoy at least a few moments of summer vacation. To be honest, there were times in the film where I nearly forgot that there was a creepy stalker clown in the story.
Another element that I liked in the movie was the 80’s influence peppered with bad mullets, ugly cars, and good music featuring New Kids on the Block, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Metallica, and Anthrax. Any movie that gives a shout out to Metallica with the Metal Up Your Ass t-shirt is okay in my book.
Image via Lilja’s Library (This car is not ugly)
Although the losers have different sets of problems, each character does have something in common: a terrifying fear. The fears that each possess are not alike but rather, take different forms. For Billy, he received visits from Georgie, a constant reminder of the deep pain in losing his brother. Having an abusive father during her pubescent years, Beverly gets terrorized by blood shooting from her bathroom drain – hardly a pleasant experience. For fanny pack-wearing, germ phobic Eddie, his fear takes the form of a leper who constantly tries to touch him and invades Eddie’s safe space. Quick-witted, smart aleck Richie enjoys extraordinary terror at the sight of clown – how unfortunate for Richie. Being the history buff and book worm that he is, Ben’s fear takes the form of a mummy. Michael, who lost his parents in a fire and now begrudgingly works in a sheep’s slaughterhouse, has had a traumatic childhood that is being further troubled when faced with images of burning figures and sounds of people screaming. One of the more interesting forms of fear, Stanley is mortified by a picture of a creepy-looking, woman-like figure in his father’s office. Seven kids with seven different fears, yet each has one goal: conquer that fear.
Image via Forum Cinemas
Deadly and cunning, the form that It mostly takes is that of Pennywise, the Dancing Clown. He is an animated individual with a demon flare. His eyes are what give away his demonic presence. More creature than man, Pennywise is in a constant struggle to maintain his charming personality and unleash his inner beast. For his meals, Pennywise will settle for adults, but he mostly craves the flesh of children. Charming, isn’t he?
Bill Skarsgard portrayed Pennywise’s character marvelously. He showed moments of light heartedness and humor, but those moments were few. Pennywise certainly isn’t a clown that parents would hire for little Johnny’s birthday party. To panic his victims, Pennywise relies on many scare tactics ranging from dreams and hallucinations of what scares his prey most, to simply chasing his victims while heckling them mercilessly, but what I found most unnerving about him were his eyes. I first noticed them while Pennywise was conversing with Georgie early in the film. It’s creepy enough to see a set of peepers peering from a murky sewer, but at a certain point in the conversation, the clown’s left eye seemed to shift and lose focus from Georgie, as if he had lost interest in the conversation and began to think of other things, perhaps what he would be eating for his next meal. This extra touch to Pennywise’s character was the idea of the Director, Muschietti who wanted to have something a little off about the clown’s eyes. When approached with the idea, Skarsgard revealed that he could makes his eyes cross and saved the film thousands of dollars in post-production costs to achieve the same effect using CGI. Take a look at his eyes, and tell me they’re not disconcerting!
Image via New Line Cinema
To say I enjoyed this film is an understatement. I don’t normally watch films in the theatre more than once, but I made an exception for It, and I’m glad I did. Doing so allowed me to watch the film in a more relaxed state since I knew where the “jump scenes” were, and I was also able to look for Easter eggs. I highly recommend any fan of the book or mini-series to watch the film multiple times to fully appreciate the amount of detail given to the movie by Muschietti; you won’t be disappointed.
I’m going to give It a 92%.