27 years after the release of Stephen King’s “IT” television mini-series, the maniacal dancing clown is finally brought to life on the big screen. Filling the shoes of Tim Curry’s Pennywise from the 90’s TV series is Bill Skarsgard – and boy, does he do one hell of a job. Considering the love the original Pennywise has received from fans, it is clear Skarsgard took his role very seriously in the film, and shows his deep respect for the source material in the novel, as well. Although fans of the novel and TV series are sure to enjoy the movie, I still recommend going into it with an open mind and just “being in the moment” during the movie, saving your comparisons for later. With all due respect to the novel and TV series, this movie stood out to me as one of the most enjoyable horror movies of the year, and I believe it has been the most enjoyable representation of the story thus far. However people need to realize this is the first time this story has been told on the big screen, and the TV series was made for TV, while this was absolutely meant for theaters. You’re not going to see the same scenes in both representations and you will see more graphic scenes in the movie. From here on out, let’s just agree both representations are great and continue with the review.
To anyone saying this is not a horror movie, you need to get your eyes checked. Pennywise is terrifying, psychotic and absolutely brutal in this movie. His movements are so unnatural and inhuman that he conveys a sense of unpredictability which only makes him that much scarier. Just when you think you know how a scene is going to play out, some crazy, off the wall thing happens and you’re left to just sit in awe and enjoy the ride. Some scenes are taken straight from the novel and as such might not be as surprising to you, however there’s still a sense of wonder about how they will portray that scene from the novel. Still, there are those who haven’t read the novel or seen the TV series, and those are the minds I think need to be emulated when watching the movie. As I stated before, just treat this like it’s an original work of fiction and enjoy the ride. From the beginning, when we see the death of Georgie at the hands – or mouth – of Pennywise in the storm drain, the tone of the film is set. We know right away this is going to be a dark, twisted film, far gorier than many expected.
Aside from the killer, dancing clown, the kids in the film also do a wonderful job portraying their characters as well, especially in moments of great distress. I haven’t seen this caliber of acting in children since Stand By Me in the 80’s, and this definitely had that same “feel” of comradery often displayed by children in films such as Stand By Me, The Goonies, and The Monster Squad. Some of those moments of distress didn’t even include Pennywise, but the bullies of the town instead. One scene in particular involved one bully carving his initials into another kid’s stomach with a knife, showing obvious signs of being a serial killer later in life. I mean, the lives of these kids are difficult enough without a killer clown after them – considering the physically assaulting bullies, a presumably sexually abusive father, a physically abusive father, and a neglectful mother, it’s a miracle some of these kids are even still alive at the point the killer clown comes along.
While Pennywise is a scary presence on his own, I have to say the majority of the scenes I found to be the scariest didn’t involve him being directly in the scene as his clown self. One of my favorite scenes was in the basement of the library where we see a headless body slowly walking down the stairs, not immediately revealing that its headless, and then finally descending the final few steps in staggered, haphazard motions, before running after the kid in the basement. That scene was incredible. Another brilliant scene involved a woman leaving a painting in a dark room, and seeing her impossibly thin shadow peer through the darkness. What’s incredible is the child doesn’t immediately run away, because you can see a moment’s hesitation as his brain tells him it’s not possible for that woman to be there, but then there’s a sudden realization in his eyes as she appears from the darkness. There are other great scenes but those two really stuck out in my mind as some of the best horror movie moments this year.
I highly recommend watching “IT” and I actually recommend watching this with a group of friends as opposed to alone, if you have the option. This movie is a roller coaster and having a good group of friends to enjoy it with only enhances the experience.
This movie is…
They all float… You’ll float, too…
Cheers and goodnight.