“We all float down here..”
By Cole Mahan, guest reporter
Pennywise, the dancing clown, returns after a 27-year slumber to feed on the children of Derry once again.
IT is the reboot of the 1990 TV mini-series by the same name, and it follows Billy, a middle school kid who leads his group of friends, or as they are fondly referred to as the Loser Club. When Billy’s brother goes missing, he and the rest of the Loser Club set out to figure out why children are going missing at such an alarming rate. Pennywise is not too fond of the club meddling with his plans, so he begins to haunt them one by one with their deepest fears. Will the children be able to fend off Pennywise, or will they fall victim to his blood-lust?
IT features an abundance of great performances from veteran actors and fresh-faces alike. Bill Skarsgård, of Allegiant and Atomic Blonde, delivers a truly haunting performance as Pennywise. I went into this film believing that there was not a chance that Skarsgård would be able to top the Tim Curry performance as Pennywise in 1990, but after his introduction around the seven-minute mark, I knew that Skarsgård was going to not only do the Stephen King character justice but give a career-defining performance in the process. Luckily, Jaeden Lieberher brought it as Billy because he definitely struggled earlier this year in the box office with the critical flop The Book of Henry. Other notable performances came from Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things) and Jack Dylan Grazer, a fairly new, young actor.
This screenplay was adapted well from Stephen King’s 1986 novel IT. In the beginning of the film, all of the colors are rather saturated except for a singular, brightly-colored object, and that added a whole new depth to the film that was mesmerizing. Unfortunately after Pennywise’s introduction, the colors begin to level out to a more even tone. Claude Paré’s production design was brilliant. He was able to truly create not only a set that was historically accurate but a set that felt as if it were a character itself.
Despite the horror genre label, It features a surprising amount of humor that had the crowd laughing out loud. A majority of the humor came from fun-loving banter between the members of the Loser Club. The balance of horror and comedy was done perfectly. The film is able to build tension with ease and then bring the audience down gently with a smart one-liner that never felt forced or shoehorned in.
Much of the success in this aspect should be credited to the score by Benjamin Wallfisch. I was drawn to this film for a multitude of reasons, but the main reason was the cinematographer. Chung-hoon Chung is one of the most underrated cinematographers working in the business right now. He has worked on films such as Oldboy, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and Boulevard and he certainly did not disappoint here.
It is shot beautifully. The special effects work done on this film is definitely a sight to behold. There is a transformation that Pennywise undergoes, and it looks brilliant.
It was evident that the film drew from other films of the 80’s, most notably Stand by Me and Nightmare on Elm Street. There are even a handful of scenes that if Pennywise was replaced with Freddy Krueger, fans would not have known one film from the other. Unfortunately, It does feature a few horror film tropes that tend to plague modern horror. There are a couple of irrational character choices, tripping over what appears to be nothing, and the occasional jump scare. There are a couple of moments in the film where there has obviously been a bit of ADR work added in during the editing process.
Overall, It has joined the ranks of Get Out and It Comes at Night for best horror films of 2017. It is definitely worth a watch as we quickly approach the Halloween season.