Stephen King’s IT review by Ronnie Malik – a horror classic gets updated for the big screen

Stephen King’s IT review by Ronnie Malik – a horror classic gets updated for the big screen

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Director: Andy Muschietti

Cast: Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer , Wyatt Oleff, Bill Skarsgård6

Rating: B+

A new adaptation of Stephen King’s famous horror novel IT is coming to the big screen. The story of children in the small New England town of Derry being terrorized by a demonic force that takes on the form of Pennywise the Dancing Clown provides for plenty of chills and thrills. This coming of age story follows the tale of a group of misfits overcoming their worst nightmares that actually may not be in the form of a menacing fanged clown that might devour them at a moment’s notice.

Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) is filled with guilt after his baby brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott ) goes missing and more than likely died as he was sucked into a drain. Bill is convinced that his brother just might be alive and spends his time coming up with theories on how he may have survived a fall into the town’s sewage system. Bill’s efforts to find Georgie get him noticed by a devilish clown spirit that wants Bill for his own evil purposes.

A shy stuttering 13-year-old, Bill is bonded with a group of outcasts that affectionately call themselves “The Losers Club.” Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) is a germaphobic boy constantly popping pills to save himself from the next disease outbreak. Stanley (Wyatt Oleff), a Jewish kid controlled by his dominating rabbi father and Mike (Chosen Jacobs), a child who is targeted for being black and recovering from the death of his parents, are two more members of the club. Rounding out the merry band of odd balls is the wisecracking Richie (Finn Wolfhard), the overweight new kid in school named Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), and the beautiful tomboy adored by her male counterparts named Beverly (Sophia Lillis).

Realizing he is living in a town like no other, Ben starts researching the location’s history. He discovers the mysterious pattern of children that go missing every 27 years in the small village. When comparing notes with his friends they all discover that they have been seeing images that bring to life their deepest darkest fears. Together they are determined to get rid of the nasty spirit that haunts the children of their hometown. But, first the group of teens must overcome abusive, manipulating, selfish adults as well as town bullies that create other scenarios for living in fear.

There are seven adolescent heroes to cheer on to victory in this latest adaption of IT and at its core this is a story about drawing strength from the love and bond shared by friends. Each of the child actors brings forth a depth and dimension to their characters making them very relatable and believable. The dialog and interaction among the lead actors is extremely entertaining as we see fragility and innocence drawing out nobility and courage to defeat an unimaginable evil. The casting of the band of eccentric teenagers could not be more perfect and this group of seven effectively carry the film without making the proceedings overpowered or messy by having a group in the lead versus just one actor to follow.

Bill Skarsgard is unrecognizable under all that makeup playing the menacing Pennywise clown. He is eerie, terrifying, and sinister as he pulls off the disturbing character taking child abuse to a whole new level. Spitting out threatening nursery rhymes and sporting red balloons to entice kids to follow a sort of Pied Piper from hell, Skarsgard manages to craft a very memorable and deranged villain.

IT is more creepy than it is scary. This is not a jump-out-of-your-seat kind of movie but more of a let-me-get-into-your-head sort of thriller. Children being terrorized by a demon clown just leave the hairs on your arm standing. If horror movie fans are looking for the thrill of something providing shock value, IT does not deliver on that scale. The filmmakers were more focused toward creating how terrors seen and unseen affect the victims of the story and how they survive by relying on each other.

IT runs a bit too long but still manages to effectively tie up the storyline while creating the perfect setting for Chapter 2 of the saga. Audiences won’t have a long wait to see all the players return as adults to battle the evil they faced as teenagers. This intelligently made film will give fans of Stephen King’s famous story something to look forward to in the near future.

Stephen King’s IT opens September 8, 2017

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