Movie Reviews: "IT" is Everything You Could Hope For in a Modern Retelling
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Get out your nightlights, kids. Pennywise is back.
If you're like me, the "IT" miniseries traumatized a portion of your childhood. Looking back on it, it really wasn't even that good, but it had a few scenes that stuck. And while it didn't instill a fear of clowns in me personally, it did make me afraid to go to the bathroom by myself and look down the drains. I mean, I got over that eventually. Obviously. But now it seems like it’s the next gen’s turn to be scared out of their wits.
If you’re at all familiar in the world of entertainment today, you’d know that the clown is up to his old tricks again. Andrés Muschietti (Guillermo del Toro protégé and director of Mama) brings Stephen King's iconic scary tale and horror portrait of anxiety-ridden Americana to the big screen, and the film delivers splendidly.
It's the summer of '89 in the fictional town of Derry, and children are going missing at an alarming rate, possibly into the town's interconnected sewers and creeks—a swirling cycle of waste, evil, and mystery. A tight-knit group of misfits take it upon themselves to get to the bottom of these strange happenings.
The film certainly sets off the jump scares, and it doesn't skimp on its grim and bloody R-rating. This thing is stuffed with ominous visuals and grotesque imagery, as it essentially dives into a series of disturbingly nightmarish sequences, skewing the lines of what's real and what isn't as the kids get caught alone in the dark. It's a terrifying tunnel of tricks. A funhouse of fears. A carnival of creepiness.
The youngster cast is so impressive, and they're the ones that really make this thing work, relishing in classic coming-of-age elements: you know—friendship and escapism, encounters with crushes, and spats with nasty bullies. They're strikingly naive with their unfiltered quips and wide-eyed worldviews, yet more keen and in tune with their immediate surroundings than the adults. As for Bill Skarsgård's Pennywise, he does a swell job in all his toothy, drooling glory—his facial expressions slipping from playful and jolly to maniacal and sadistic faster than you can press open a switchblade.
As far as I'm concerned, the film presents pretty much everything you'd hope for in a modern IT re-imagining. It's a well-crafted adaptation that deftly juggles multiple layers and meanings. And overall, this thing proves to be an affecting experience, no matter what incarnation of IT you see.