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IT- Movie Review

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Pennywise the Clown holding a balloon while menacingly staring at the audience

Pennywise the Clown holding a balloon while menacingly staring at the audience

Pennywise the Clown holding a balloon while menacingly staring at the audience

Cole Greene

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Throughout the years there have been numerous different film adaptations of classic Stephen King novels, ranging from excellent to downright terrible. IT (2017) is NOT one of those terrible films. This is a magical moviegoing experience that is a must-see for fans of the titular author, or fans of film in general and ranks among the best Stephen King adaptations (so far).

IT tells the first part of the story of “The Losers Club”, seven children whose seemingly idyllic summer vacation is marred by the sudden disappearances of many of the town’s children. The children would much rather not have to deal with this issue, but recurring visions of their greatest fears eventually leads them to try and face those fears and the evil, sadistic clown known as Pennywise.

You may be wondering, “How does this Pennywise stack up to Tim Curry’s rendition of the character from the 1990 mini-series?” Bill Skarsgard plays Pennywise here in the 2017 film adaptation of IT and I have to say, he knocks it out of the park and then some. Going into the movie I was unsure of how good Skarsgard would be, considering I had not seen any of his previous work, but it took all of two seconds for any hesitance I had going in to be washed away. Skarsgard brings a weird sense of likability to this iconic horror figure, and he is clearly having fun playing the sadistic clown. He also manages the horror aspects of the character very well and is able to put his own, nightmare-inducing spin on the character.

There are very clear and significant differences between Skarsgard’s performance and Curry’s performance as Pennywise. Curry for the most part played the role for laughs and only went for the horror aspects when the story deemed it so. Skarsgard’s Pennywise however, is much more alien in nature. He doesn’t go for full-on comedy, so much as he goes for just mocking the children as he’s about to kill them.

With the first chapter of IT set during the main characters’ early years, the film is led by a talented cast of young actors. Jaeden Lieberher (The book of Henry, Midnight Special) and Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things) are joined by newcomers Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Wyatt Oleff, and Chosen Jacobs in the story’s group of misfits. The chemistry between these young actors is fantastic, as they bring this very real sense of depth that makes the terrors that they face resonate beyond your typical monster movie jump scares.

The horrors here are completely earned and don’t feel cheap. They are all set up in one way or another that leads to huge payoffs later on. The movie is also extremely gory. The filmmakers here really went for it in a few places and had me looking at the screen in utter shock of what I was seeing happen to some of the characters.  There are also many background images and things that play a large role in the horrors of the film. What makes these things so scary is the fact that none of the characters can actually see these things, they are simply there for us as audience members to notice and be frightened of. It almost gives this sense of Pennywise always overlooking the children without their notice, and it is extremely creepy.

One standout sequence from the film involves a pseudo-haunted house where the kids go to try and confront Pennywise. This fifteen-minute segment of the film plays out in horrific ways that make all of your worst nightmares and haunted house experiences come true in spectacular fashion.

Another thing to note about the movie, is just how funny it is. The comradery between the children and the dialogue that they are given feels exactly like how kids that age would talk. They curse and make rude jokes that are as non-PC as you can get, and it has hilarious results but also feels true to the characters and their age.

For me, IT was a truly incredible filmgoing experience that had me trying to remember a time where I was enjoying myself this much in the theater. As a horror movie, I wouldn’t say it’s the scariest movie that I have ever seen but as a whole, the film is able to rise above the competition and be something special. I loved every second of IT and I can honestly say that this may be my favorite horror film of all-time. I cannot wait for part two to be released, as it has quickly become one of my most anticipated films for its assumed release in 2019.

10/10

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IT- Movie Review