MOVIE REVIEW: IT
Warning spoilers ahead…
In recent years the term “torture porn” became the new way to describe films that was billed as terrifying and scary. Simple blood and gore did very little to terrify rather than disgust. Now comes IT from New Line Cinema based on the Stephen King classic of the same name directed by Andy Muschietti. IT promises to fear and it delivers on that promise.
The film opens on a rainy day in October 1988 when a boy named Georgie Denbrough takes his paper boat that his brother Bill (Jarden Lieberher)made for him sailing along the street only to have it disappear down the gutter. Georgie’s ill attempt at retrieving the boat leads him to meet Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), the dancing clown. Those peering eyes from Pennywise would be the first of many hair-raising moments throughout this 136-minute film. Pennywise offers Georgie a balloon and when he reaches to retrieve it, Pennywise grabs his arm and bites it off before dragging his body into the sewer.
Eight months will pass before Pennywise would resurface and terrorize Bill and his friends. Bill believes his brother is still alive and convinces his Richie (Finn Wolfhard), Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) and Stanley (Wyatt Oleff) to help find him. Along the way the gang comes across three other misfits. There’s Beverly (Sophia Lillis), a girl who is abused by her father and bullied mercilessly by others for being labeled a “slut”. Then there is Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), an overweight boy and new kid in town with a secret crush on Beverly. And then there’s Mike (Chosen Jacobs), raised by his grandfather and homeschooled. Together they are all bullied by, the town goon Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton). They proudly refer to themselves as “The Losers Club”.
It is through Ben that the gang discovers that the Town of Derry has a dark past when it comes to missing children. Each kid confesses to having fearful experiences involving an evil clown. Pennywise feeds on the fears of children and he manipulates those fears for his own self-serving needs. Much of the film has a Stand By Me and Goonies feel to it as the gang embarks on a mission to conquer their fears and discover the truth behind the missing children including the fate of Georgie.
As the Pennywise character feeds on the fears of children, the film itself feeds on our own fears. There are just enough moments of quiet terror to make your heart skip a beat. Credit director Muschietti for stylishly tapping into those fears and giving real justice to King’s horror genius. The young cast is exceptional and impressive. The closing credits show that IT is only chapter one and a bigger story is yet to be told. Real horror comes from the mind when we fill in the blanks. It is both psychological and personal. IT does all that and more.
Directed by Andy Muschietti
Starring: Bill Skarsgard, Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Jack Dylan Grazer, Chosen Jacobs and Nicholas Hamilton
R 136 mins
IT – ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
May the Dork be with you,
The Dork Knight