This Stephen King remake floats above an entertaining mark, but it does have flaws.
By JOHN BLACKBURN
It’s been 27 years since Tim Curry starred in “IT” – the two-part TV mini-series based on Stephen King’s famous 1,138 page novel of the same name about an evil clown named Pennywise who terrorises a group of kids in Derry, Maine. But now, he has been revived for the silver screen, with Bill Skarsgard taking the main antagonist role. The new adaptation takes place during the 1980s (not the 1960s as per the original), as a bunch of outsider middle school kids known as the Losers Club come across their worst fears portrayed by a demonic clown. Naturally, they all come together to face their fears and kill the clown in order to stop it kidnapping and feeding on other children in the area.
The film only focuses on “Chapter One” in which the kids took on the clown, leaving the sequel in 2019 to explore the Loser Club members as adults who return to their hometown so they can finish him off. The kids- played by Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard (of Stranger Things fame), Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, and Jack Dylan Grazer- give some great dramatic performances and some good comedic moments as they play realistic and likeable characters who share amazing on-screen chemistry. Furthermore, the fears that the kids experience are seriously unnerving. A bunch of hands popping out of a locked butcher’s door accompanied by screams of escape was a particularly bone-chilling one.
As for Skarsgard playing Pennywise the evil dancing clown, he is as creepy as it gets. His drooling evil grin sets the tone from the beginning- everything he does when he actually attacks the kids just comes off as goofy to me. There was some great cinematography that helped bring out some intense moments, like hand-shaken camera and Dutch angles (although I wasn’t too sold with the steady-cam technique used on Pennywise).
As for the flaws of the film, it has a pretty slow pace, as well as an inconsistent tone. It switches constantly between a dark, gritty horror film to a comedy (sometimes a young-teen comedy with slow-motion humour during the naughties), and even vibes similar to the show Stranger Things. The film was advertised to be a scary movie, and it isn’t really that scary. It had a load of jump scares, each with the typical set-up, and I didn’t hear anyone get that scared at the sold-out Friday night screening.
Overall, I would say this film is pretty entertaining. There’s a main cast playing some likeable heroes, as well as a few bone-chilling moments, and great cinematography (for the most part), but also no solid identity and slow pacing. I think most people would enjoy this one just as much or maybe more over the mini series. But for me personally, it floats just above a satisfactory mark.