Down a street riddled with puddles, past the old house on the left, under the sewer grate you never even noticed, lives your darkest fear. Based on the novel written by Stephen King, Andy Muschietti’s rendition of “IT” reintroduces you to Pennywise the Clown and the tragedy he inflicts on the town of Derry.
In a small Maine town, local children are mysteriously disappearing one by one. Missing posters litter every lamp post and bulletin board, but no one seems to find it that unusual. After experiencing horrific visions, seven outcasts band together and become the town’s only hope to rid itself of the ancient shape-shifting monster that plagues their community every 27 years.
While reflecting other ’80s friend groups, such as those in “Stand By Me” and “The Goonies,” the Losers’ Club hosts well-rounded and perfectly developed characters. The young cast included names such as Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis, and “Stranger Things’” Finn Wolfhard. Between bike rides, secret postcards and fanny packs, the chemistry formed between the gang seems strong enough to enable them to overcome anything, whether it be the local bullies or a demonic clown.
Pennywise, played by Bill Skarsgard, seemed more computer-generated imagery (CGI) than monster. While Skarsgard’s expressions were chilling, he seemed fairly absent from the screen. The level of fear inflicted is minimal when it is obvious to the audience that nothing happening on the screen is real. However, that doesn’t mean anyone left the theater unscathed.
As the plot progresses, Muschietti’s adaptation seems to switch between sentimental nostalgia to horrific theatrics without any transition. This creates a disjointed flow, which might have been avoided if the primary emphasis of the film was directed less at the gang of friends, and instead shifted to developing the haunting legend that was only touched upon.
All of this aside, the movie was thoroughly entertaining and the experience as a whole was one-of-a-kind. Between the brotherly love and dynamic love triangle, the gang’s bonding was endearing and made rooting for them easy. The suspense-driven moments were incredibly haunting, staying with you even after you’ve gone home.
A theater located near the setting of the film, filled with red balloons and anxious audience members, created a unique viewing experience. The audience’s synchronized screaming, then embarrassed laughing, then screaming again made the demonic clown monster projected on the screen much less scary.
Overall, this adaptation leaned too much toward the jump-scare gore style currently fueling most horror movies, and only slightly incorporated the story’s natural blood-curdling and goosebump-inducing qualities. “IT” did not let you forget, however, that you’ll float too.