Review: It


I think I’ve read half of the famed Stephen King novel. Maybe not even half.  And I saw parts of the TV mini-series that was popular in my youth.  But at best, I had a cursory understanding of the plot of “It,” the number box office release this weekend.  And I’m glad.

Because I had no preconceived notions, I didn’t go in comparing it to anything else.  I was able to enjoy the film on its own merits, and there’s a lot to enjoy.  As horror films go, it’s got a few jump scares and lots of blood and other gruesome special effects.  If that were the focus, though, it would be a high-budget B-movie.

No, the focus here is on something much more.  If Netflix’s “Stranger Things” taught us anything it’s that we long for a nostalgic look back at Spielburg-ian adventures of old.  “It” has that and more.  “It” also has outstanding performances, especially by the young cast.  It’s really quite remarkable.

A quick snapshot of the story: Georgie, a young boy, has gone missing in the town of Derry, Maine.  Derry has a problem, you see – every 27 years bad things happen in the town.  Currently its tons of missing children.  A band of self-described “losers,” pubescent boys and girl, while dealing with abusive (to varying degrees) parents and high school bullies they begin to solve the mystery of the disappearing children.  Ultimately they find themselves in all out supernatural warfare with “Pennywise the Dancing Clown”, a shapeshifting evil presence who feeds on fear.  It’s one of Stephen King’s best-loved books.  I can’t tell you how faithful it is the source material but I can tell you that it’s an excellent film.

There’s not a bad performance in the film.  Especially outstanding is Jeremy Ray Taylor as “Ben,” Jaeden Lieberher as “Bill,” and Sophia Lillis as “Beverly.”  These three young people give authentic, honest, and raw performances throughout the movie.  Taylor, is especially, engaging.  And of course, Bill Skarsgård stars as Pennywise, the evil clown, the role made famous by Tim Curry in the miniseries.  It’s not just the makeup, but his body language, voice tone, and creepy aura that make this iconic role come to live.

While this film features children in the leading roles, it’s definitely not a film that children should attend.  It’s R-rated for language, extreme violence, and very mature themes.  No, the audience this film was made for is . . .well . . .me.  Nostalgia-loving adventurers who have matured, who have seen the realities of evil in our world.  While “It” may remind us of “Stand By Me” or “The Goonies” there’s no mistaking the bleaker outlook that comes with adulting in 2017.

Director: Andy Muschietti
Writer: Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, Gary Dauberman and based on the novel by Stephen King
Notable Cast: Bill Skasgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Chosen Jacobs, Wyatt Oleff, Nicholas Hamilton

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