A good blend of comedy and horror, I just wish there was more clowning around.
‘It’ opens during the summer of 1989. In a little town called Derry, more and more cases of missing children start to populate the town. A local group of bullied kids who label themselves as the ‘Losers Club’; become united as these strange encounters land right in front of them. Literally – in the form of a disturbing creature called Pennywise The Clown. Learning that fear is It’s leverage of it’s victims; the children decide to fight rather than run and embark on a hunt to take down the predator before they become it’s prey.
I put my hands up – I haven’t read the book. Nor am I a huge Stephen King fan nor am I too clued up on the basic background of his previous movies. So for me, this was a fresh watch essentially. The one thing I was aware of was the fierce love the movie had already garnered. I did hold somewhat high expectations, and you know what, it didn’t disappoint too much.
Within the first scene, we encounter this cute little boy who just so happens to come across a creepy-ass clown standing in a sewer. Bizarre? Yes, but it’s tame. For the first few minutes anyway. We are then thrusted into this almighty disgust when the clown proceeds to bite this poor little boys arm off and drag him down into the depths, never to be seen again. From that moment, we are shown that this is a creature with no limits. The shock coupled with the gory image, sets the audience with a flavour of what’s to come; although it isn’t entirely what you expect.
The comedy brought forth by the ‘Loser’s Club’, made up of the young talent such as; Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis and Jack Dylan Grazer is one big part of why this film is so good. It flows superbly and the jokes are crude, sexual, full of swearing, yet still stupid enough to sound like something a young kid would say. I think without this, it would have turned out quite different – perhaps a bit boring if I dare suggest? Another strong point were the fear-induced horror scenes. Although few, they were full of distortion and nauseating action that either made you jump out of your skin or sink so far into your chair that you are almost on the floor trying to hide your eyes.
The ‘Losers Club’ ends up having 7 members and each child has their fear brought to life by the ever so kind Pennywise. Although these scenes are produced wonderfully, it does feel like there is too much going on. In the first part of the film , each child’s back story as to why each have these specific fears are attempted to be explained. However it ends up a bit like a ping pong match – back and forth, back and forth.
With each of these bases trying to be covered, it messes up the stream of the storyline and leaves behind more questions than answers. What was the origin of Pennywise? Why was It in Derry? We hear the town maybe cursed but that’s it? Was the extra screen time was worth showing an angry kid being hypnotised into killing his father, rather than elaborating on the story further. (Just to clarify, I’m not wondering, I know) Also, if you do know the answers to those questions, don’t forget I’m a Stephen King newbie so how am I suppose to know?!
Now, lets talks about the goddamn acting. GODDAMN. Bill Skarsgard – I applaud you. Combined with fantastic makeup & wardrobe, he absolutely knocks it out of the park as Pennywise. With an appearance so unnatural, voice so bipolar in tone and language, his eyes fixated with hunger, his mouth dripping with saliva; I believe he is one of the most extreme horror villain’s to come out of recent cinema. His performance is so unsettling to the viewer; I would go as far as to say that this would be the first villain to make such an impression since the iconic Joker role perfectly executed by Heath Ledger. The only downside with having such a good villain is that you want to see them perform more . I was definitely left thinking – ‘yep, I’d much rather be watching a demented clown than a kid right now’. Nonetheless, the children’s performances bloody blew me away also, in particular Finn Wolfhard and Jaeden Lieberher. For a child to convey such complexity in their emotion, is such an amazing talent at that age and I repeat myself – they knock it out of the park.
The first half of the film was brilliant, the second part wasn’t as great. I wasn’t highly impressed by the ‘Hollywood’ ending, you’re left going – wait, that was it? Everything else was an unconventional, psychological ride that integrated horror and comedy well. And we don’t see this a lot in modern cinema. Although lacklustre in some stages of horror, director Andy Muschietti has tried his best at entwining the old and new. For some it is 5* work, for others (myself included) he would fall slightly short of this.
At 2h 15m, it is too long and there is too much going on; but the nostalgia of the 1980’s is nailed perfectly. The characters are executed perfectly and this is still such a refreshing difference from what we see more nowadays. According to Metacritic and IDMB, ‘It’ is one of the ‘good-uns’s to view and I agree. Side note – if you liked Stranger Things, you will love this (some similarities are uncanny) However if you have no idea what I mean by Stranger Things, then you will have absolutely no clue what I’m on about; but should that stop you? Definitely not – take yourself to the circus.