It Film Review
27 is a recurring number in It. Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgård)- the ancient, trans-dimensional evil that awakens every twenty-seven years to haunt the children in Derry, Maine and it took 27 years after the 4 part miniseries (based on the mammoth book written by Stephen King) for the movie to be released.
Children are mysteriously disappearing in Derry, and in 1988 one of those missing kids is Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) the younger brother of our main protagonist, Bill Denbrough’s (Jaeden Lieberher). Riddled with guilt, Bill along with his bullied friends Beverly “Bev” Marsh (Sophia Lillis), Richard “Richie” Tozier (Finn Wolfhard), Stanley “Stan” Uris (Wyatt Oleff), Michael “Mike” Hanlon (Chosen Jacobs), Edward “Eddie” Kaspbrak (Jack Dylan Grazer) and Benjamin “Ben” Hanscom (Jeremy Ray Taylor) will attempt to find Georgie. But along the way they will find their worst fear realized and come to life thanks to Pennywise, and fighting him off, won’t be easy.
It is a scary piece of film. And I do mean scary. Trust me, Pennywise is terrifying here but here are plenty of other things to be afraid about too. Although far from perfect, I have to say is an improvement from the 1990 It miniseries, and I’m going to state the obvious and share the first sentiment from watching the movie. Andy Muschietti’s second motion picture in his career has the best child actor picks since Stranger Things (another Stephen King inspired project). Literally every single of the child actors is fantastic, but you will find yourself laughing and instantly loving Finn Wolfhard’s foul mouthed and very talkative Ritchie. Wolfhard stands out from the crowd and in his character you’ll find the most humor actually, but every single one of the seven child actors, fits like a glove in their given characters. They are exceptionally good and if you think about it… only two from the seven „losers“ have previously well known actors in the roles. Jaeden Lieberher and Stranger Thing’s Finn Wolfhard. Everyone else is pretty much an unknown for the general public but oh so good.
Because of It’s 135 runtime, Muschietti and the 3 screenwriters failed to grasp the tempo at times, and any attempt to make it compelling without relying on too many jump-scare scenes pretty much fails. But there is not to say that on occasions, the movie works without them. It is sometimes scary without the jump scares, but very rarely. There is of course the menacing and convincing performance from Bill Skarsgård in the titular of It. I have to give Skarsgård a huge credit for making Pennywise scarier presence now, because his presence on screen is so minimal, and yet he manages to make an impact. Way scarier impact than Tim Curry’s 1990 portrayal of the creepy clown if you ask me.
But if you notice, this is a story told through child perspective. The child actors are dominant in the storytelling and the parents or other grown up authoritative figures are largely missing. Oh and when they actually appear on screen, they are actually even scarier than the creepy clown. They are absent, abusive, controlling, demanding, pushy and precisely this you can find it in many scenes (but in one particular). It’s the frightening blood from the sink scene involving Beverly Marsh and her abusive father. Yes we saw Beverly’s fears explode everywhere in her bathroom, but that scene also emphasized the difference of perception between the adults and children in Derry.
Like in many Stephen Kings works, (here too) there is also strong emphasis on the themes that can often be found in his other books and subsequent adaptations of those books. The forming of friendship, loyalty, help when most needed, and childhood crushes all wrapped in one scary coming of age film story.
Set in the late 80’s there are plenty of references from particularly that era. Michael Jackson, arcade games and New Kids on the Block being most famous ones, there is a small dose of nostalgia in It, that goes beyond music preferences. It’s the nostalgia about the time pre-Internet and smart phones where the kids actually played outside without adult supervision. For the whole summer. Can you remember that? Well we are reminded of that once more in It, and also why this great book, is now turned in to even better movie. It’s not about It. It’s about the kids that are trying to defeat It by defeating their fears first.