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September 25, 2017 | by  | in Film |
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IT — Andy Muschietti

This year has been somewhat drier for horror films, with my last genuine thrill coming back in May with Get Out. Thankfully, IT scratched the itch. An adaption of Stephen King’s famous novel, all most people will want to hear is that IT lives up to every expectation. If you’ve seen the trailer you’ll know what the opening scene is, but seeing it in its entirety in the theatre is an unforgettable experience that sets the precedent for what follows. You’ll know what I’m talking about, trust me.

I was caught off guard (probably because I’m used to sub-par horror movies) by how much of a character driven film it is, with each and every one of the Losers’ Club given fair amounts of screen time both individually, and as a collective. The chemistry between the young characters, which is thankfully very R-rated, is suitably realistic. While their comradery is a force to be reckoned with, there is a force that seeks to divide them, and then sequentially devour them. I refer of course to Bill Skarsgård’s Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Now, I am not afraid of clowns, but I am afraid of this clown. He drools, his eyes misalign, and every practical and digital effect merges seamlessly with Skarsgård’s unhinged performance. What’s funny about the performance is that he is actually playing a clown to the literal point of being funny. He’s basically entertaining himself, and what’s entertaining for Pennywise is certifiably terrifying for the audience. With his character, and basically every element in the rest of the film, the filmmakers don’t hold back, and create some truly demented and jaw-dropping sequences, while working constantly with the beautiful traditions of horror.

It’s almost sad that this film is R16 (though I fully endorse its content) because this is a coming of age story that a younger version of me would have taken real joy from. The film treats its audience respectfully, and the kids act like you’d expect them to. Members of the Losers’ Club repeatedly whine that it’s summer, and that they’ve got better and safer things to do than hunt a murderous clown, but on they go on with comradery, curiosity, and even duty. It may not be The Shining or Stand By Me, but I’m very glad to add IT to the category of King’s adaptations* that live up to the source material’s legacy.

 

* There have been 65 films based on his written works, of which I can recommend seven: Carrie (1976), The Shining (1980), Stand By Me (1986), Misery (1990), The Shawshank Redemption (1994), The Green Mile (1999), and 1408 (2007).

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