Director: Andres Muschietti
Starring: Jaeden Liberher, Bill Skarsgård, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer
Run Time: 135 mins
‘It’ is the deliriously anticipated film adaptation of the 1986 Stephen King novel. ‘It’ focuses on the cursed town of Derry, Maine where a demonic presence (taking the form of Pennywise the Dancing Clown) inflicts terror every 27 years, terrorising and murdering children and shapeshifting into their worst nightmares. The narrative follows a group of misfit children who call themselves ‘The Losers Club’, together attempting to end this malevolent curse. There has previously been a mini-series in 1990, perhaps most famous for Tim Curry’s electric performance as Pennywise. This 2017 iteration is directed by Andres Muschietti, his second film after the grating, cliche-ridden ‘Mama’ (2013). Muschietti had replaced Cary Fukunaga who now remains with solely a writing credit.
‘It’ is hypnotic and tension-fuelled for the first half, flowing very naturally. Fukunaga’s influence in tone remains, fully fleshing out its captivating characters. Where the film has wildly succeeded is in its casting. ‘The Losers Club’ are all cast perfectly and Jaeden Libeher and Finn Wolfhard give a particularly genuine performance as Bill, the group’s leader and Richie, a character with an uncommonly foul mouth. Facing stiff competition from Tim Curry who set the bar extremely high, Bill Skarsgard makes Pennywise his own and is supremely sinister and charismatic. The film also features a thoughtful and melodic score by Benjamin Wallfisch and is handsomely shot by Chung-hoon Chung.
Unfortunately, ‘It’ becomes rather wearing in its second half and its scares cheap and uninventive. The ending is quite predictable, with too much concern of setting up the upcoming second part. The visual effects are also surprisingly ropey despite the film’s modest budget.
If you’re looking to be suitably scared, prepare to be disappointed. This is more ‘funhouse’ scary than truly neck-prickling more in the vein of Richard Donner’s ‘The Goonies’ (1985). Although ‘It’ may not do much to advance the horror genre, it’s certainly thrilling enough particularly in its first half to pass the time well.