Stephen King’s novel ‘It’ has terrorised audiences for decades.
Filled with psychopathic bullies, child abduction and the scariest clown ever imagined, ‘It’ has everything to cause long sleepless nights. The latest adaptation, directed by Andy Muschietti, shows how terrifying the story is.
Set in 1989 in the small town of Derry, Maine, ‘It’ follows a group of unpopular teens over one fateful summer. The town is plagued by disappearing children, including group leader Bill’s (Jaeden Lieberher) little brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott). As more disappear, the friends investigate, leading them to come face-to-face with their biggest fears.
Big-budget horror films haven’t had a great run lately. Most rely heavily on jump-scares and cheap CGI, forgoing story and character. Muschietti has the sole directing credit on 2013’s ‘Mama’, which was scary but also had story issues. With such big doubts, it was an incredible surprise to find ‘It’ was brilliant.
The film features some of the most frightening images to appear on screen for quite some time. From burning hands appearing from behind locked doors to the rotting flesh of lepers, most of the scares are effective. Rather than solely relying on jump-scares, Muschietti injects the film with a creeping sense of dread as the kids make sense of things. I couldn’t help but feel ill whenever predatory men interacted with Beverly (Sophia Lillis).
When ‘It’ isn’t turning your blood cold, it’s warming your heart thanks to the young cast. The kids are a delight to watch, making audiences feel a warm fondness for childhood. Particular praise goes to Finn Wolfhard, who plays foul-mouth Richie. Many will be familiar with Finn for his role in the series ‘Stranger Things’, which shares a lot in style and tone with ‘It’, but as Richie he is a delight. Finn’s lines are filthy, but his enthusiasm shines with glee.
Of all the brilliant performances, Bill Skarsgard stands out with his unhinged and shocking portrayal of antagonist Pennywise The Clown. Bill disturbs from his very first appearance, with only his face on display. As the film moves, Pennywise builds on his terror, with unnatural body movements and a voice that led to this reviewer having a terrible night of sleep afterwards – “They all float,” has been repeating in my mind since. No matter what scene he is in, Pennywise dominates like he did my nightmare.
‘It’ is a terrifying film which faithfully brings Stephen King’s imagination to life. Like its source material, ‘It’ is sure to go down as a horror classic.