- Director: Andy Muschietti
- Running Time: 135 minutes
- Release Date: 8th September 2017
- Age Rating: 15
- Reviewed By: Martyn Wakefield
Stephen King has owned the horror community for decades and even after 4 decades of writing still manages to influence the genre. While his recent adaptation of THE DARK TOWER may have fallen flat for some critics there is no denying that the second attempt of adapting IT is a near flawless masterpiece. It even does the impossible and out shines the iconic Tim Curry performance that gave every 80s kid a fear of clowns.
For those who don’t know the events (how?) IT shares the stories of a group of kids known a s the Losers over summer break. Over that break, they learn what it is to lose their innocence at their most vulnerable. Set in small town Derry, the population decreases over 6 times the national average and for good reason. Beneath the sewers of the town lives the living embodiment of the townsfolk fears and as the Losers get closer to the truth, the fear intensifies.
The star of the show is the vessel for the parasitic creature that lives beneath the town. Pennywise is the name and eating children is his game. At times, played with such boyish charm that it’s easy to see why clowns can be so entertaining and just as you feel at home in it’s comfort, he turns into the most fucked up monster in existence. Bill Skarsgard is perfectly cast as the malevolent funster and has a perfect balance between mischievous and terrifying. The screen presence is something magical and shows his more tenured family members who the new kid in the block is a force to be reckoned with.
Second to the sheer terror, each if the Losers is perfectly cast and encapsulate the innocent your of the films core. Bill’s (Jaeden Lieberher) burning guilt for letting Georgie go out alone is the drive for the film and the determination and personal struggle is so believable from such a young individual. Rivalling the brave defiance is Richie (Finn Wolfhard) who is a carefree loud mouth who delivers some of the films best lines, while his character is a huge contrast, his fear still resonates and like the other kids, when Pennywise gets his claws in the young actor shows how it should be done. Another great storyline comes from the defiant Beverly (Sophia Lillis) and if there is an arc that shows the difference between this and the original adaptation its hers. Sharing from the source, the abusive relationship between her and her father is here in all of its gory detail, stopping short if showing “that” orgy scene, this version is so much gruesome not just because if the events at the hands of Pennywise but of the personal struggles that are at home for all of the Losers. Even Stan (Wyatt Oleff) pushy religious parents, the Stockholm syndrome effect that suffers Eddie (Jack Dylan Glazer) and even the bully, Henry (Nicholas Hamilton), isn’t as clean cut as portrayed in the famous TV movie pulling off an even darker edge this time round.
Amidst all of the personal turmoil’s, Pennywise feeds and his hunt is sheer terror. As he pop, pop, pops up when the kids are most vulnerable, his ability to tap into their fears is a near trick to do the same for the squirming audience.
With career launching performances from literally every member if the cast, IT is near flawless and while it isn’t as scary as the likes of INSIDIOUS and THE CONJURING, there’s enough horror and dismemberment throughout to keep even seasoned horror fans awake. Where the best if the genre tends to build towards it’s scarier notes, IT delivers everything without hiding any tricks under its sleeve. One standout scene shows a CARRIE like bloodbath to which the adults cannot see but rather than masking it shows the panic of the children amidst the sheer frustration of those not in the know of the supernatural events at play. While Pennywise manages to keep things sinister, his sense of fun is never banished (with lines like “If you lived here, you’d be home by now” pouring tears of laughter from the audience) and with this it makes his dark notions even more terrifying as it shares a relatable child like nature that is more familiar with the children than the real life horrors that plague their daily lives.
IT is never dull despite a run time in excess of 2 hours and even has the cheek to leave cinema goers with more to come in Chapter 2. This entry is simply the childhood story of a group of kids battling their fears. Next time we can expect them to be more grown up and prepared for the inevitable return of cinemas newest poster boy. IT is the most terrifying film of the year, not because it builds tension but because it perfectly blends innocence with danger in such a delucate manner. More importantly, IT is evidence that mainstream horror is still as strong as ever!
Overall Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆