Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Starring: Jaeden Lieberher, Wyatt Oleff, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer, Chosen Jacobs, Jackson Robert Scott and Bill Skarsgård
Run Time: 2h 15min
Genre: Horror, Drama
3 Frames out of 5
By: Shari K. Green
What IT gives you is a smart and psychotic action-thriller more than a horror film, to be honest. Yes, there were some fabulous jump-scares and a delightfully big creep factor going on, of course, but it didn’t really scare me all that often. The film is based on one of Stephen King’s bestselling books about a killer clown named Pennywise so that alone should tell you that it’s going to be worth the time. It was originally a TV miniseries in 1990. The original had the entire nation afraid of clowns and we may have that going on again. Creepy is definitely a good way to define what the character offers the audience but what you might not expect is some of the sound acting from its young cast.
Not surprisingly, some of the best comes from the Skarsgård in the group. There is plenty of talent to be had in his family and he’s no different. Bill, plays the movies evil clown. He’s the son of Stellan Skarsgård (Good Will Hunting, Thor) and the brother of Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood, The Legend of Tarzan). At age twenty-seven, Bill already has twenty-seven film credits to his name and now has gotten this opportunity to be the memorable Pennywise as did Tim Curry who originally played the role.
I would have preferred it if the script had given Pennywise more of a chance to be… scary! Skarsgård had what it took to frighten the pants off of you but the focus was more on the trials of the boyhood pals and their new friend Beverly. Beverly is played by Sophia Lillis who is another shining piece of the pie. Her story is that of an abused daughter who offers love and support to others in need rather than display the resentment and pain she may feel from the maltreatment and violation she is exposed to daily. She is not weakened from her struggles she is strengthened despite them.
The movie starts by giving us the information that children in Derry, Maine are disappearing. Little Georgie, (Jackson Robert Scott) an adorable boy afraid of his cellar who director Muschietti set us up to feel bad for right away, is Pennywise’s first victim. This is dreadful and sets up an expected tone. What you presume you’ll see is more of this but what you get is more like The Expendables when the men were pre-teens… facing their fears together and refusing to give up on defeating their biggest demons. At the end of the school year, Georgie’s older brother Bill (Lieberher) and Bill’s friends look for Georgie.
As the story plays out, each child’s inner skirmishes are displayed and what Pennywise ends up being is a metaphor of the life they are no longer willing to live. An emblem, even, of their fortitude. What one might wonder is, does this clown really exist? Is what they’re experiencing really happening or is he the manifestation of their trepidation to grow beyond childhood; to lose what they now have and be exposed to their vulnerabilities? Georgie was afraid of the cellar because of what his imagination made materialize. Bill and his boyhood friends are, essentially, suffering that same fate… each of which will get worse if they don’t confront their beast.
IT is an engaging watch that keeps you interested in the outcome of the characters. The friends are, for the most part, different from one another and you do care for them as they face their plight. The cinematography is beautiful and the humor and feeling sorry for all of them is a big part of what makes the kids more likable. You’ll be rooting for them every step of the way. I’d like to note for you that for the biggest chills, don’t miss the scene when Ben, (Taylor) follows the balloon into the back of the library or the scene in the garage.