Doesn’t seem to be a person on earth who didn’t see IT this weekend. Of course those with crippling Clown phobias avoided it like the plague, but judging by the weekend box office numbers IT is a mega hit and will likely be one of the most profitable horror movies of all time. I of course decided to throw my hard earned cash on the pile and caught the flick as well. No surprise there. It’s a horror flick based of a Stephen King book. Bet you’re sweet ass I was there. Also unsurprising I am a die hard King fan and adore the novel with which IT is based on. A true masterpiece and to this day absolutely terrifying. Although we got a made for TV version of the novel in 90’s (Tim Curry as Pennywise the Dancing Clown tormented my nightmares for years after watching as a young lad), the story has been begging for a big screen adaptation. I love the 90’s version will all my nostalgia addicted heart can, but it’s a horribly dated movie with some grossly uneven performances (Curry aside! The man can do no wrong!). An updated version was not a bad thing in my eyes. After numerous false starts, Director Andy Muschietti (Momma) was the guy we needed to get the dancing clown up on the big screen.
IT follows part of the same story as the 90’s version and novel. While it’s predecessors went a more non-linear approach to telling the tale, IT follows a more straightforward approach and focuses solely on The Loser’s Club as kids. No flashbacks here. Just straight preteens fighting a cosmic child eating Clown in a sewer. This approach was great for allowing us to connect with the characters. Instead of bouncing around between the 30 year gap, we get to experience everything with the kids as they do. Helps flesh out these characters and in return we are much more connected to them. It’s the first time in a long time that I actually cared what a teenager had to say. A true testament to the film making here and also a testament to how old and crotchety I have become… Damn Kids! Stay off my lawn!!
Wouldn’t matter how good of directed Muschietti was if his cast was ready to kick some ass too. And man they were more than up to the challenge. The entire cast (Loser Club and all) nailed. These kids are amazing and give performances that are simply the best I’ve seen all year. Standouts being Finn Wolfhard as smart mouth Ritchie Tozier and Sophia Lillis as Beverly Marsh. Wolfhard had me rolling with his perverted “burns” that mostly revolved around various Loser Club members mothers. The kid was great and stole every scene he was in! Lillis did a lot of the emotional heavy lifting here and handle all the aspects of Marsh’s character beautifully. Lillis proved more than capable of handling the insanely heavy baggage that Marsh deals with. Seriously, we are talking Academy Award level of acting. Between this and Stranger Things, it’s like Hollywood is feeding kid some sort of acting enhancing steroid.
Even with a cast this great, there was one role that would make or break this flick. If Pennywise was anything less than outstandingly terrifying nothing would save this movie. Bill Skarsgard had some pretty big clown shoes to fill. Tim Curry made the Pennywise character iconic. It felt impossible for anyone to come close to what Curry was able to achieve. Well, Skarsgard must have been munching on some of the Hollywood kid steroids, cause I’ll be goddamned if he didn’t make Pennywise his own. Skarsgard did not try to emulate Curry’s performance, but he also didn’t ignore it either. He went a darker route than Curry did. Which is weird to say because they both play a clown who torments children before murdering them and then eating their bodies. Where Curry played a clown with a monster inside, Skarsgard played a monster clown. Whatever way you slice it, Skarsgard has the honor of haunting children’s nightmares from this point on. Congrats buddy!
I would love to say that I walked away from IT terrified and with soaked pants, but that was not the case. My biggest complaint with the movie is it was fun. I know! How dare they! Make a movie fun!?!? What’s next? Water that’s wet!?! Joking aside, IT is a story that is regarded as one of the most frightening stories ever. It’s a story that has scared me for years. Maybe it’s decades of watching and reading horror. Maybe I knew the source material too well. Maybe I’m desensitized to a point where a monster clown gnawing off a child’s arm with razor sharp teeth, barely effected me (Jesus, I may need to go see someone about this…), but I can tell you this: not one point in the 2 plus hour run time was I ever filled with fear or any tension. I may not be the target demo for these kinds of movies anymore, but never should the word ‘fun’ be used to describe a movie about Pennywise the Dancing Clown.
IT is a beautifully shot, well acted, superbly directed and… fun (I just threw up in mouth a little…) horror flick. Bill Skarsgard was able to make Pennywise his own and bring the character into a whole new generation’s nightmares.
For a full recap of everything that bothered me about IT check out Ep 216 of the SJP Podcast available right now!