Stephen King has written many novels and short stories over the years, with many of them being turned into films, some of them good, some great and some bad. IT was adapted as a TV movie back in 1990, and 27 years later IT returns. In the small town of Derry, Maine, something evil haunts the town. Every 27 years something occurs that see the deaths and disappearances of many of the towns’ children. Now that evil has returned, IT has taken the form of Pennywise the clown, taking children down into the sewers beneath Derry. After a young boy Georgie is taken by Pennywise, his older brother Bill gathers his friends together in an effort to find him and stop Pennywise. Bill Skarsgård leads the cast as Pennywise, with IT also starring Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Jack Grazer, Chosen Jacobs, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Nicholas Hamilton and Steven Williams.
Full credit must be given to the casting department because the cast of IT are incredible; everyone from the Losers club to the bullies, to Pennywise makes this movie what it is. The casting of the kids was brilliant and they definitely make IT feel like something more than just another horror story. All the young actors were fantastic but the standouts for me were Jaeden Lieberher, Sofia Lillis and Finn Wolfhard (Mike from Stranger Things). These three gave standout performances. Lieberher in particular as Bill, a boy desperate to find what happened to his younger brother, even when everyone seems to have given up looking. Sofia Lillis is also incredible, as Beverly, whose character has so much dark trauma in her life, yet still remains strong and believable. That being said the ensemble cast is fantastic with every young actor giving an incredible performance, probably because they were genuinely terrified during filming. Perhaps the best casting was that of Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise, he was terrifying as the evil clown. Even when you knew the jump scare was coming; Skarsgård manages to elevate the fear experience. He perfectly blends the physical and psychological sides of a horror villain, and is fantastic to watch.
Despite being a horror movie there is a great coming of age film, because nothing helps you grow up quicker than a supernatural clown trying to murder you. The film has some great moments that feel like Stand By Me and The Goonies, and even Stranger Things vibe due to the film being set in the 80s. Some recent period films have relied too much on the nostalgia of the times, but IT focuses more of being a kid during a time when you didn’t have technology and had to find other ways to have fun. The boys often refer to the fact it is summer and they are meant to have fun, doing things that kids do. There are those moments of adventure throughout IT, which helps it stand out above other horror films, as it is able to cross multiple genres, rather than just a straight up horror film.
Whilst I didn’t find this film as scary as I expected it to be, I think it is a lot smarter than any other horror movie I have seen. Rather than try and frighten the audience through cheap jump scares, IT explores the concept of fear and in particularly fear from the perspective of the kids. There are plenty of things that frighten kids, from bullies and parents to the unknown and supernatural creatures. Remember being a kid, home alone and hearing those different noises? There are plenty of things that scare children. Now to add to the fear there is an evil clown that manifests into their greatest fears before trying to kill them. What the film does well is examine fear through the eyes of these kids, and how best to approach their fears. Coming back to the earlier point, it is not about scaring the audience it is about scaring the kids. It is like a great mystery, you aim to confuse the characters, not the audience. Watching these kids work through their fears, as well as working through being a kid, is what makes IT stand out.
I will say that IT wasn’t as scary as I expected it to be; there were definitely some terrifying moments. Unfortunately most of the big scares were shown in the trailers, which even out of context were still scary. You are able to expect the scares a little more but there are still plenty of terrifying moments. I also think that the films exploration into the concept of fear is brilliantly done and is why it stands out as a great horror movie. As well as being a great horror film IT is also a great coming of age story around a group of friends in the summer time. IT is highly entertaining and a lot smarter than most horror films, and doesn’t fall into the dumb horror tropes that can suck you out of the experience.
Fans of horror will definitely enjoy this film but I would recommend most people see this film unless you can’t stomach clowns at all.
I think the film is awesome on the big screen for some of the scares and visuals.
IT scores an 8/10
Thanks for reading my review of IT. The movie crushed at the box office this weekend, did you see it? Let me know your thoughts on the movie and my review in the comments below.
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