Director: Andy Muschietti
With such an abysmal summer, the worst in decades, it looked as if no film could save the ailing box-office until the Holiday films start hitting theaters in a few months. Lucky for us, we didn’t have to wait very long, as the very first weekend after the summer movie season ended, produced what can only be called the best horror film of the year.
The story of It takes place primarily in the summer of 1989 in the town of Derry where adults die at six times the national average and children, we learn, face even more dire statistics. The main characters are seven children who all experience strange happenings and visions of fearful or traumatic events in their lives. They eventually determine that behind all these visions is a terrifying clown who appears determined to harm them. As the children connect Derry’s history with the appearance of the maniacal clown, they must decide if they should band together to stop It once and for all.
The mythos of It is fairly well established as it is based on the Stephen King book of the same name published in 1986. The book was so well received that a miniseries starring Tim Curry as the titular clown was released on television in 1990. The miniseries developed a cult following primarily due to Tim Curry’s portrayal of Pennywise the clown, which is seen as the creepiest clown in film. When it was announced that It was getting a remake, many seemed to react negatively to the news, concerned perhaps that Hollywood would sully the good name of Pennywise. Lucky for us, not only was the remake good, it bests the original miniseries in every conceivable way.
It is not a television friendly portrayal of a creepy clown making goofy faces following around a group of kids. The It we are receiving in 2017 is dark, the Pennywise portrayed by an unrecognizable Bill Skarsgard, is a no holds barred homicidal maniac determined to kill as many children as he can. Within the first five minutes of the film, it is very clear that we are watching a well earned R-rated film as we witness first hand the kind of monster Pennywise is.
It does not solely rely on the scares delivered by Pennywise, the film is also a sort of coming of age story of the children we follow throughout the film. We experience with them, pain, love, anger, laughter and loss; we come to care for their well-being. We root against the bully and bad parents and feel embarrassed for them when they are picked on, ignored or abused. It is as if there is a drama just beneath the surface of what is clearly a horror film. Director Andy Muschietti guides his stellar young cast and manages to produce the best horror film, not only of the year, but of the last few years. To those of you waiting for an excuse to head into the movies this fall, Warner Brothers just gave you a damn good one, so definitely check It out and see for yourself.